The Shack

I should probably add that I chose the following quotes because I find the theology disconcerting, and not because I agree with it…. love to hear your thoughts!

OTHER POSTS WHERE I TALK ABOUT THE SHACK:  Let Him do what seems goodThe Theology of The Shack is not the theology of the Bible.   The ShackWho’s Influencing Who?   The Shack, the Love of God.   

———————————————————————————————–
God: “I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature.”  Pg 93

God: “You do understand,” she continued, “unless I had an object to love – or more accurately, a someone to love – if I did not have such a relationship within myslef, then I would not be capable of love at all?  You would have a god you could not love.”  Pg 103

Mack: “Are there any who you are not especially fond of?”…  
God: “Nope, I haven’t been able to find any.  Guess that’s jes’ the way I is.”  Pg 118/119

God: “I don’t need to punish people for sin.  Sin is its own punishment, devouring you from the inside.  It’s not my purpose to punish it; it’s my joy to cure it.”  Pg 120

God:  “We carefully respect your choices…. Creation has been taken down a very different path than we desired.”  Pg 123

God: “If only you could see how all of this ends and what we will achieve without the violation of one human will.”  Pg 125

God: “I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little diety insisting on my own way.”  Pg 126

God: “I’ve never taken control of your choices or forced you to do anything… To force my will on you,” Jesus replied, “is exactly what love does not do… we are submitted to you in the same way”  Pg 145

Mack: “But I still don’t understand why Missy had to die.”
God: “She didn’t have to, Mackenzie.  This was no plan of Papa’s.  Papa has never needed evil to accomplish His good purposes.”  Pg 165

Jesus: “Who said anything about being a Christian?  I’m not a Christian….. Those who love me come from every system that exists.  They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims… I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.”  Pg 182

Jesus: “One last thing, remember earlier when you thanked me for letting you see Missy?  That was all Papa’s idea.”  Pg 182

God: “Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies.”  Pg 185

God: “I did not purpose Missy’s death, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use it for good.”  Pg 222

God: “Son, this is not about shaming you.  I don’t do humiliation, or guilt, or condemnation.  They don’t produce one speck of wholeness or righteousness, and that is why they were nailed into Jesus on the cross.”  Pg 223

As she finished, there was silence; and then God, all three, simultaneously said, “Amen.”  Pg 233

Mack: “God, the servant,” he chuckled but then felt a welling up again as the thought made him pause.  “It is more truly God, my servant.”  Pg 236

Advertisements

178 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Neil Christopher
    Jan 16, 2008 @ 10:41:52

    Ah yes…The Shack.

    Just read a review on it over at Tim Challies Blog.

    From reading the quotes I can see why it’s so popular.

    I will say from experience, that if that’s the kind of comfort available at the loss of a child, it’s not much comfort at all…

    Reply

  2. Nicole
    Jan 16, 2008 @ 11:22:37

    Hey There Neil – we actually have a group discussion going on about it (http://theshackreview.wordpress.com)…. and you can always borrow my copy.

    It is not the sort of comfort I would want from my God… I have been really blessed by two of Piper’s books – “The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God”, as well as “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God”… I think they both provide an answer, where God is glorified, and our depraved world is seen in light of His worth, and not our own….

    feel free to comment further on the other site… I think perhaps you can offer insight that few can….

    Reply

  3. WatchersWife
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 15:27:47

    Nicky, I agree with you. If you are a true Christian the “god” in the Shack is not the one you want comfort from. It is not the God of the Bible. The names and characteristics given to that trinity are the names from the Hindu/Eastern religions trinity. You can see a brief overview from our notes on this on this Squidoo page

    Reply

  4. WatchersWife
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 15:30:09

    Squidoo page from my first post
    (http://www.squidoo.com/ShackHeresy)

    Reply

  5. Nicole
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 16:56:59

    Wow – very enlightening… I have checked out your sight a little too – and would love to contact you! Thanks for posting your thoughts….

    Nicole

    Reply

  6. unorthodoxology
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 13:00:00

    This is funny. Though it seems I probably disagree with a lot of the reasons behind it, I actually agree with the generally horridness of this book. Not only is it simply poorly written, its theology is sickeningly lackluster and simplistic.

    And way too obsessed with giving ridiculous answers to the theodicy question.

    Reply

  7. Nicole
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 15:04:16

    But, most people who read it do not see the answers Young presents to dealing with evil and suffering as being ridiculous. Whatever “truths” he is presenting, the average reader seems to be buying into the god that is presented in The Shack as he deals with the evils of this world. The book is immensely popular, precisely because people want that god.

    Reply

  8. brandon
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 11:33:14

    so a few comments…i am sure this is going against the grain of most of conservative western Christianity but here goes…
    “I find the theology disconcerting”
    1. what’s unacceptable about god not having a gender…the purpose of gender is purely reproductive, sexual and two people coming together offer different things to one another (in humans not god)…god is not incomplete therefore needs no “male” or “female” characteristics. nor sex or preproduction. why would god need a gender, other than to be close minded into gender creating stereotypes…and of course not to offend the political correctness of most of conservative Christianities ideals “if you don’t call it a ‘he’ you’re sinnin'”
    2.all the parts talking about love and grace and how god’s goal isn’t to punish but to cure sin…which isn’t merely disobedience…thinking of it that way makes it the enemy. sin is brokenness. people don’t sin because they’re bad at heart…they sin because somewhere along the line, someone experienced a broken form of love which they carried in them and in turn made them broken. and please don’t bring the “born into sin” as an argument. sin isn’t people being evil…its people who are broken responding the only way they know how in their brokenness. “if we could focus on loving people instead of making sin the point of god’s story…maybe we could actually help people. redeem people. restore people. but after all…that’s not really the focus of most of the church is it? jesus said love god, love others. that’s the point.
    3.”Son, this is not about shaming you. I don’t do humiliation, or guilt, or condemnation. They don’t produce one speck of wholeness or righteousness, and that is why they were nailed into Jesus on the cross”…you can disagree with this??? really. have you ever examined god. i guess grace, love, compassion, and restoration were just added in the bible by the liberals to make it okay not to hate gay people. “god is love” but “they’ll all burn” i suppose.
    4. maybe if christians wouldn’t spend all their time attacking everything that goes against the status quo of medieval christian doctrine…and more time helping people with aids, sex slaves and victims around the world of injustice…we would be in a better state. but then again…those issues don’t concern white republican christians who consider boycotting Harry Potter more of an issue of radical christianity than loving people who need it…without agenda, without end, without reserve or conservation. just because. funny thing…i’m white, used to be ultra conservative church of god kid and used to think god was republican and democrats love the devil. funny how life and god can change when you seek out truth, without preconceived barriers of answers you will accept…you find things are a lot different than you believed before…that most of christian doctrine in america doesn’t reflect jesus much at all…in fact the whole church sub culture isolation is all about self wholeness. it gets hard to bear and it gets old. god’s story…is about love, hope, peace, redemption, restoration and grace. our love isn’t love unless it’s love to the end. love that can be lost isn’t godly love at all. i hope one day we realize that the idea of the sin teater-totter being a constant battle for heaven and god’s love is contradictory to any truth that can be derived from the character of god. i might come off bitter and “lost” but the freedom i have found is awakening and sometimes i get tired of the people how “have god figured out” being the only voice heard…a deafening and hurtful voice that isn’t reflective of the nature of love and grace that we see from jesus…who came to reign over everything else in this twisted doctrine. love god. love others. period.

    Reply

    • Betsy
      Nov 19, 2009 @ 21:20:21

      Amen. Thank you.

      Reply

    • Crystal
      Dec 04, 2009 @ 11:02:20

      Incredibly well worded.

      Reply

    • Kristie
      Jan 02, 2010 @ 11:08:07

      FINALLY! SOME TRUTH! Thank you Brandon!

      Reply

    • jess
      Mar 09, 2010 @ 00:37:58

      i’m glad someone spoke up! thank you!

      Reply

    • Amy
      Feb 05, 2011 @ 11:34:13

      I was blown away by the book The Shack u see i think so many times we put God in this mold & think we have God figured out. God wants us to have a relationship w/ Him the more i seek God & get to know Him the more freedom i know, the more i realize i have no clue who God is He is so AMAZING & AWESOME!!!!!! In 2 Corinthians 11:14 it says Satan disguises himself like an angel of light & i think so many times thats exactly what happens we start becoming religious & getting on r high horse & w/out meaning to judging people because the more flaws we can find n others the better & holy. when i catch myself judging others i feel God telling me “its none of your business that is between me & that person u just take care of “

      Reply

    • Megan
      Mar 22, 2011 @ 22:53:50

      Thank you so much for this! I have been reading way too many criticisms to this book and it’s refreshing for someone to speak the truth. I don’t understand why so many people who call themselves “Christians” are spending time tearing a book down that is trying to draw people closer to God and Jesus. If you are a Christian you believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ and what he stood for; whose teachings (exactly how you put it) was about love. Thank you again.

      Reply

    • Carol
      Mar 24, 2011 @ 14:52:07

      Thank you Brandon for your wisdom & maturity in understanding what Paul was trying to convey in The Shack. I felt it was a wonderful refreshing read of who God is! Allowing each of us to search our hearts as to what we believe. I like what you said about people being broken responding in the only they know how in their brokenness. God sees us in our destiny as He has prepared for us to be. Not in our sinful ways. Thank you again . Great discernment.

      Reply

    • cathleen
      Jul 05, 2011 @ 11:55:50

      Thank you Brandon, I was raised in a very condeming church and it affected me for a very long time! I am a christian, but I choose not to be involved in any organized religion, or typical Sunday morning church service. I am not saying that its bad to go to church, or that some may not need that. But for my spirituallity, I choose not to. The Shack has been a wonderful healing tool for my soul, and I have found that my faith and trust in God, has grown more in the two years since Iv’e read the book, then in the previous 25 + years of being a believer. I respect the fact that some may not like the book, but for me its been a great reference in understanding the love of my saviour for me. Thanks again for your honesty. Well written!

      Reply

    • Jenea
      Feb 11, 2012 @ 07:04:28

      Thank You. That’s the thinking of someone who believe’s in Free Will.

      Reply

    • James
      Oct 07, 2013 @ 06:13:54

      Thanks for posting this reply to some of the other very negative comments 🙂

      Reply

    • yoza
      Oct 10, 2014 @ 09:50:33

      Ths is the best book i hv ever read, it defines God as ” i am who i am”, without putting him in a box and it clearly defines God as love, nothing bt love. Religious ppl would nt allow them selves to understand cz they thrive on judgement, what keeps them goin is the competition and power on who is better than the other, who will bé punished and just whole lot of things tht lack love. The kind of God mack define is the kind of God who saved mylife through nothing else bt love and he dd nt need a church or a priest to do it nor dd he need a body, and tht kind of God i will follow, cz he is the ultimate love,

      Reply

  9. Nicole
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 12:22:09

    Brandon. We can agree on your final point – Christ summed up the commandments in “love God, love others” as well.

    I take offence to your bitterness. I think you have made a few really quick judgements about me. I am not “attacking everything that goes against the status quo of medieval Christian doctrine” – what I am seeking, is to provide people with a more Biblical perspective of God than what is often offered in modern books and theology. Like Neil said in the first comment the God of the Shack is small comfort indeed in serious crisis. I take comfort in knowing that God ordains all things, and not that He merely offers some sort of bandaid solution to all the evils of the world that just were out of His control. People NEED a sovereign God.

    I DO love the down-trodden, those who struggle without hope. Ask my friends if all I do is blog all day, with a blind eye while the world suffers. Ask them if I pass judgement when they tell me their struggles with alcohol, or eating disorders, or bi-polar. If I turn a blind eye to their being abused as children. Ask them if I walk away when their mom passes away. Or they are unaccepted by their local church. Or their life is too hectic they can’t get a supper together, or their housecleaning caught up. I am deeply involved in the lives of like-minded women, who seek to meet the needs of those around them, with love, without judgement.

    “Son, this is not about shaming you. I don’t do humiliation, or guilt, or condemnation.” The interesting thing about John 3:16, is the verses that follow. v18: “whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe in Him is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” God does condemn those who do not believe in Christ.

    God’s gender is important because language is important and specific with God, and HE chose to reveal Himself as HE, and Father and Son. It is sin for us to alter that, on the human argument that God is genderless. If HE says He in the Bible, who am I to argue?

    Sin. Sin is not merely “brokenness” but a falling short of the glory of God. Everything that is not done in faith is sin. Romans 14:23

    Reply

    • bishop
      Jan 02, 2010 @ 11:31:25

      The recent comment brought this response back to my attention.

      God’s gender is important because language is important and specific with God, and HE chose to reveal Himself as HE, and Father and Son. It is sin for us to alter that, on the human argument that God is genderless. If HE says He in the Bible, who am I to argue?

      Actually, the gender qualification is a cultural issue. And, quite frankly, I find it much more of a sin to blindly accept a language construct than to seek out the divine directly. Language is, indeed, extremely important. It’s precisely this use of language that binds people and enslaves people to a perspective that allows them to be used and abused as mindless sheep. The divine is a gender (any gender, in fact) only in the expressive language of Man. This is conveniently overlooked by those who argue for the overbearing and oppressive nature of a masculine tribal deity that is contained within cultural norms of the historical timeframe these texts were written. Even when the bible initially provides for the multi-gendered aspect of divinity, it is conveniently dismissed or overlooked by Christians in favor of their enslavement to a narrow-minded, culturally-bound, patriarchal need to act out like ants rather than human beings.

      Sin. Sin is not merely “brokenness” but a falling short of the glory of God. Everything that is not done in faith is sin. Romans 14:23

      According to Pauline Christianity, yes. But not according to Christ who utilized a Jewish perspective on sin and reconciliation that is very different than Paul’s pagan concepts of guilt and redemption.

      Reply

    • Nicole
      Jul 08, 2010 @ 12:07:02

      God does not condemn all those who don’t believe in him. Simply saying that you believe in God and going to church to worship him does not make you a good person. And I have known one person who was purely and wholely good, right down to his core. Just because he did not believe in God during his short time on Earth does not mean that God didn’t welcome him with open arms to Heaven. If your idea of God is one who is unaccepting of those who have not completed their spiritual journey enough to find him before their death(which I would argue that none of us have, that is why we are here) then that is not a God that I believe in. God loves all of his children the same.

      Reply

  10. Paul Maurice Martin
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 18:53:40

    That’s always stood out for me too: Love others and love God. A direct statement, not a parable – very clear.

    Reply

  11. Robin @ Heart of Wisdom
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 19:09:06

    Thanks for the review. I wrote one today too. See http://heartofwisdom.com/blog

    Reply

  12. unorthodoxology
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 21:44:59

    Actually, God chose to reveal God’s self as a “we” not a “he.” The original language in Genesis 1 is plural, not singular. So, if we are to be literal, then we should refer to God as they, which comports with a trinitarian view of things, of course.

    Of course, then God referred to God’s self as “I AM,” which is singular.

    So, let’s just, for the sake of argument say that God is male, a “he.” Let’s put that aside and suspend debate on that subject and let’s talk basic anthropology.

    I think a more interesting question to start with, then, is what makes a male?

    Is it sexual organs? Does having male organs and masculine hormones make me male? Then, what exactly am I to do with those born with both?

    Does being male have to do with what I do or how I live? As a man, do I have to live in a fundamentally different way than a woman? According to some, yes. As a man, I should lead my wife and provide for her. Yet, my wife is in the military and I follow her and stay home with our children, traditionally womanly tasks.

    I think a more interesting question is if God is male, what exactly *is* male?

    Reply

    • Krista
      Apr 30, 2010 @ 20:26:46

      I would say, in my own opinion, our culture, our society was built as a place where there is male dominance. With the “He”, I only see it as, it wouldn’t be right to label God as a female, for that is not the superior gender. In the time that that was, of course, because everyone knows we are making great improvements when it comes to gender discrimination and so on. So I see it to be a timing thing.

      I believe God is God, God has no gender. God is who you want God to be and how you want to perceive God. God appears as you want God to appear, through female form, through male form, through the blowing of the wind. God can be anything.

      Sorry to be a little redundant there.

      Reply

  13. unorthodoxology
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 21:48:46

    Oh, and in the first creation story, God says that we (God) should go down and make humankind in God’s image. So God made them male and female in God’s image. How should we think of this? That only together, as male and female, do humans reflect God’s image? That God’s image is reflected in each, separately?

    It’s an interesting thing to think about.

    Also, if the Bible was written at a time when women were considered no better than property, is it fair to assume that their minds, even if inspired, could have conceived of a God that wasn’t male.

    I agree that language matters. It matters immensely. As one writer has put it (paraphrased): If God is male, then male is God.

    I’ll shut up now. 🙂

    Reply

  14. Jenn
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 09:08:06

    I found this to be an informative read:

    http://lifestream.org/blog/?p=530

    I am almost done reading “The Shack”. So far, I am deeply moved. I have experienced God meeting me in some very dark moments in my life. I’ve never been out to a shack to experience Him exactly the way Mack did but I’ve been pulled from the depths of sadness and He has been so loving and gentle in bringing me from those places. This book was a beautiful reflection of a loving Heavenly Father who treasures his children. As someone who has had a hard time wrapping my mind around that “faucet” (can’t think of a better word but I’m sure there is one) of God, this book reflected well for me what I have personally experienced. Not a theologically backed review, by any means, but just some shared insights. 🙂

    Reply

  15. Nicole
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 11:09:55

    That was a great link Jenn, thank you! Thanks for your link as well Robin.

    Let me add – a few of us have been discussing this book for quite some time at

    http://theshackreview.wordpress.com/ if you want some more indepth looks at why I feel the way I do about the book….

    Reply

  16. brandon
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 11:54:21

    did not mean to come off bitter to YOU. sorry for that. i have just been around so many close minded people in the bible belt (buckle) of Cleveland, TN where there is a church o every corner and no less hurting people in every aspect. i used to be very conservative and now that i am more liberal with my doctrine, it bugs me the way the church is, and how poorly it reflects the aspects of Jesus. what also bugs me is that the church has seen fit to aid in close mindedness in helping people believe what they are told, rather than seek out truth, no matter what it looks like and own their beliefs, instead of being a mockingbird to “what pastor told me.” there are so many things that i used to thing were wrong and then i realized, what if i was wrong about them all along? what if i just thought that way because i was told so? and i sought them out to know for myself and i came out with certain views of mine being reinforced but with many other being shot down. i asked challenging questions and really look for answers, whether they reinforced what i already believed or not. there are a lot of things that the church focuses on that i think are not the point. a lot of wasted efforts to build this church camp sub culture that leaves so many things to the wayside. my ideals about grace, sin, love, compassion and the heart of god has changed drastically and i sometimes get angered when i see this monster of a church body that cares more about their own hollow completion, like grace is something wearing thin and more about being in a choir or the dram team, than actually giving a crap about what goes on outside their front doors. people that love only when there is an agenda behind it. people that are so wrapped up in the “enemy” of sin and “loving the sinner but hating the sin” that all they do is coerce the weak into conforming to something they don’t understand and leave them to dry in a hand me down faith, and those who are weaker/more abandoned, they only attempt to hurt into salvation by trying to play god and “bring that ole sinner out.” i am in a turning point in my life where i have grown so much in my system of faith and its hard to examine faith when you’ve made the statement for yourself, maybe its not like i was always taught. maybe the church fathers hundreds of years ago missed the point. let me find out for myself. and then coming out of that with a world view shaped by experience and relationships with other people’s hearts. i still believe in god, but my ideas of god are radically changing and i don’t have every question down and figured out. i like that because at least this way i can learn, instead of blindly accepting what has been the norm in doctrine for the past 2 hundred years. i still believe in god. i believe in jesus and who he was, and in the “good” news. its called good for a reason right? if a father adopts his children, does he give up that adoption on a whim. i’m not sure i can believe that god is love and still believe in the god who cuts off his children when the struggle, waiting to return if they say “forgive me.” the more i looked at the person of god, the new covenant god, the more i realized maybe eternal salvation isn’t such a far off idea that people use to get away with sin. maybe god wants love to be our focus. if someone is doing something wrong, something sinful, and by sin i mean actually, mutually exclusive, no way around it, it is damaging…then they are broken. when people sin, they seek out something to fill a desire, a desire that is whole and pure….but in their brokenness, they seek out a filler that is not whole and pure. people aren’t wicked, they are hurting. i kbow that god told me the two most important things were to love him and love others. not fix others. not control how others live. just to love. if they are broken and need to be fixed, love is how we fix them. god is the one who moves and changes people. i am no good at it. why bother doing his job. maybe i should do as i’m told and love. cause in the end that is the only positive thing i can do in their life and love them in a whole way. that love, like god’s whole love in us, moves us. why should they be the same. my views are still shaping. my imag of god is still changing but one thing i do know is that i cannot go back to the “god” i used to believe in when i was that kid in church camp for the church of god who thought i was a horrible person because i couldn’t meet the expectation of reading the bible enough…or the kid that thought i could tell someone they were sinful because they chose who they loved and it happened to be another man. or the kid that cared more about boycotting movies like the “golden compass” because it had some hidden anti-christian agenda…and that was how my faith was radical but i never once gave thought to the people in north Korea who suffer injustice every day, or the people in Africa who live through hell from minute to minute from HIV, starvation, civil war. being radical is more than showing you love god by protesting the removal of the ten commandments from school. things like darfur are radical. so why aren’t the “radical” people worried about that. the problems i have with the church is that they spend so much time labeling what is sin (usually a cultural standard rather than a universal evil)and usually in some way a of feeling vindication in that they know the truth and the people that have wronged them are wrong in the eyes of god and they some how will have to own up to it to receive salvation, even though god offers wholeness,and finding their own completion takes up all their efforts like its something to be won, not given. the church denies any idea from scripture that goes against the main set of ideas. you never hear talk of moderation or working out salvation with each person and god or about the power of grace…it’s something won by Christ, but ‘you’ can undo it with you actions, so its powerful, just not very. there is a lack of maturity and it aggravates me when i see it. instead of teach children how to deal with something or how to moderate something that isn’t inheritantly bad through maturity and proper handling, they shelter and raise these kids that spend all their time in church doing mimes to contemporary Christian music and never any time impacting someones life just through relationship, once again, without agenda. like i said, i’m still learning and growing. not initial growth, but unlearning and relearning. i’ve been a christian for years, went to a christian liberal arts school in TN and spent a lot of time in drama teams, worship bands and singing “specials” and through all off that, there are only a handful of moments i feel had purpose. i’ve felt more purpose being a part of someones life and speaking with someone and getting to know them like, caring about them and impacting them with who i am while sitting on their roof, talking late and enjoying a beer. i’m not there yet in my beliefs, but at least i am moving. sorry that my frustration came out wrong. i was no meaning to attack you. its just hard not to get upset when i see so many people who’s attitude is “well pastor didn’t say it this way so it must be wrong” or “that offends my idea of my own beliefs because it is different or it offends my own justification.” i’m not saying this is you, but i see this a lot so your literary criticism of this book, which i have not read, but get the idea that the thology is more liberal than most made my views jump a little. once again, sorry for coming off hurtful. i’m also unsure of how much a think the bible is infallible anymore which kinda motivates my though process a little as well. it’s hard to find a balance when your ideas become more liberal because “if this was wrong, who says they didn’t miss the mark with this things…” but i’m not talking about that. i’ve wrote enough. mainly just to say sorry to offend.

    Reply

  17. brandon
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 11:55:17

    i type fast and tend not to use paragraphs in bulletins. sorry.

    Reply

  18. raquelamisto
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 12:14:43

    brandon,
    I completely agree with you on a ton of your points (namely what we ought to be concerning ourselves with rather than what we are).
    However, I’m not sure that Jesus ever asked us to beleive in the believers… I’m pretty sure that we’re supposed to hang our hats on Him. I’m not sure that we should go around banging on “the church” when we ourselves have so far to go… we ourselves are just as much children as they. I beleive that it is us who need to take responsibility for having put “the church” onto the pedestal that Jesus alone belongs on. That’s my sin – not “the churches.”
    Coming to this point, I choose (moment to moment, eh?) not to change or shift what I read in the Bible, rather I choose to live out what the Bible clearly states.
    With my whole heart, I REALLY want that.
    -Raquel

    It’s hard to blame those in the church when it’s the Holy Spirit who is the giver of revelation – mine, yours, theirs. Can we fault them for not being given that revelation? Are we all on the same path at the same rate?

    Reply

  19. raquelamisto
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 12:18:38

    p.s. if all southern mathematicians were mean, would we change how to add and subtract? because they’re delivery of math to the masses is without grace, does that change the math?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that while the delivery is wrong, if they don’t use math outside of their classrooms, the math has nothing to do with it. That’s a completely separate issue.

    Reply

  20. Nicole
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 13:39:53

    Well said Raquel. And Brandon. I understand a lot of your frustration. I have not adjusted a lot in my doctrines over the years, mainly because I was raised in an amazing environment, where my parents took the time to show us how to search the Scriptures for ourselves, and come up with our own understanding. I never felt pressured to believe a certain way. Nor did I ever feel they did anything but act upon their convictions by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    I have close friends though, who have really had to re-evaluate their thinking. I talked about my best friend’s struggles a year ago with this: https://daughter0fzion.wordpress.com/2007/05/29/of-friendship-and-of-wrestling/ I think what must remain a foundation is our trust in the Word. And then, going to it, we can grow in our faith, and understanding of truth. It is the only firm foundation. There are a lot of people who talk big, regardless of their theology, that simply do not live as they talk. Like Raquel said though, we can not throw everything they taught us out the window, simply because they lack the application of it….
    Like you said, the Word, once you start to doubt it, becomes harder to believe, in more and more areas. My prayer for you is that you can trust it to be a sure foundation….

    I appreciate your honesty. And your frustration… Keep talking!

    Reply

  21. Ava
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 03:46:24

    I would like to point out one thing that seemed to be overlooked in all the discussion… The Shack is a work of fiction written by a human man. I am sure if you asked Mr. Young if he thought there were holes in his theology, he would agree that he is not God, and he does not understand his sovereignty, and because he is human, of course his theology is not perfect. No human theology will ever be perfect because we are not meant to “get” God. His story was an attempt to take his understanding of his Jesus, his father who he knows adores him, and explain that love to others. Is that not the great commission? To tell others of Christ’s love for us? If the book lead one to Jesus, then rejoice. This is not the bible, it is a book, a novel, and as long as the trinity isn’t be represented outside of love and grace, the two things I think we can all agree salvation depends upon- God’s love for us and his grace by which we are saved- then take it for what it is. A human man making the best sense he can out of a God we were never meant to fully understand.

    Reply

  22. Nicole
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 06:28:35

    While I appreciate the point you making Ava, I think it is misleading to suppose because it is “jus a novel” that there is no theology in it. Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress is also a novel, and is full of good theology.

    I do not think it enough to represent God, I believe we are asked to properly represent God, which Young does not do.

    Reply

  23. Ava
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 13:16:56

    Of course there is theology in it. Of course there is flawed theology in it. That is exactly the point. I am sure if you were to ask God he would point out many flaws in Pilgrims Progress as well. The point is that none of us can perfectly represent God because we will simply never understand that of which we represent. Young was giving it his best effort. A flawed human effort, yes, but not one to be torn down by others who don’t fully understand the same God.

    Reply

  24. Ava
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 13:19:24

    My whole point being that I am sure Young did not hope for anyone to take it as God breathed, it’s not the bible, don’t look for perfect theology anywhere but there.

    Reply

    • Robert
      Dec 15, 2009 @ 13:07:18

      Thank you Ava, Brandon and Anton.. I have just finished reading this book and I am shocked that any non-positive opinions would follow this story. You people may think I am weird but this book has brought me back to the church and back to the Lord. As a child my family went to church every Sunday. As we got older we just stopped going for reasons unknown to me (I am now 35). When I picked up this book by no means did I think I was picking up a Bible. I knew it was a fictional story and never took it for more then that. All I was told was that it was a “good feeling story”. I wish that I could express my feelings as well as all of you. All I can say is that this book filled my heart with joy, love, and peace. I attend church every Sunday now and have this urge to learn more about the Bible and devote more time in helping my church and others. I will be starting Bible study next week and I’m feeding the homeless around Christmas time (something I’ve never done) I cant wait to learn more about the Lord and share this new love in my heart. After reading the book, I never thought these characters represented the real God or Jesus (if that makes since) It only brought my faith and love back. It sounds like most of you already have a wonderful relationship with the lord, I am right behind you! Please take this book for what it is (a good feeling story)! God Bless you all and have a wonderful Christmas!

      Reply

  25. Anton
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 20:15:33

    Thank You Ava !
    Brothers and Sisters, please relax and breath,.. This is a FICTION novel, it is a story written by a father for his children in the hope of communicating a) his love for them and b) his love for his heavenly father. Thats it!

    My Advice … read it (all,.. even the postscript) pull from it what you know to be right and true and what resonates with your relationship with THE FATHER and leave the rest behind.

    Mr. Young has communicated some wonderful truths in his novel,.. embrace them. If something does not ring true for you and your life/faith leave it.

    Don’t miss the forest for the trees! Thank you , Ava,. for pulling some perspective into this discussion.

    Reply

    • Robert
      Dec 15, 2009 @ 13:06:37

      Thank you Ava, Brandon and Anton.. I have just finished reading this book and I am shocked that any non-positive opinions would follow this story. You people may think I am weird but this book has brought me back to the church and back to the Lord. As a child my family went to church every Sunday. As we got older we just stopped going for reasons unknown to me (I am now 35). When I picked up this book by no means did I think I was picking up a Bible. I knew it was a fictional story and never took it for more then that. All I was told was that it was a “good feeling story”. I wish that I could express my feelings as well as all of you. All I can say is that this book filled my heart with joy, love, and peace. I attend church every Sunday now and have this urge to learn more about the Bible and devote more time in helping my church and others. I will be starting Bible study next week and I’m feeding the homeless around Christmas time (something I’ve never done). I cant wait to learn more about the Lord and share this new love in my heart. After reading the book, I never thought these characters represented the real God or Jesus (if that makes since) It only brought my faith and love back. It sounds like most of you already have a wonderful relationship with the lord, I am right behind you! Please take this book for what it is (a good feeling story)! God Bless you all and have a wonderful Christmas!

      Reply

  26. raquelamisto
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 22:55:35

    Nicole,

    What is happening?? Tonight it makes me a bit… sad.

    Reply

  27. Nicole
    Jul 16, 2008 @ 06:46:16

    Anton, I am relaxed.

    Ava said: “but not one to be torn down by others who don’t fully understand the same God.” That was a little harsh. I will be honest with you though – I do not want to understand this god.

    There is a great and awesome God of the Bible, who promises great comforts and healing in affliction. I wish THAT God had been better represented. As Neil said in the first comment – who lost his teenage daughter in a car accident less than two years ago – the god of the shack provides small comfort. I think there is definately a need to address theodicy. I think John Piper’s “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God” does a much better job of that.

    I found it interesting in reading in the article Jenn linked that Young intended to include “ultimate reconciliation” but the publishing company helped him re-work it out (although I do not believe completely – there are still hints in there). There is much danger in thinking it improbable to mislead with a novel. The book is getting eaten up, and my concerns grow with its popularity.

    Reply

  28. Steve Grove
    Jul 16, 2008 @ 18:34:21

    It was initially self-published…

    The power of fiction is that it can tell truth in a new light. See what Bonnie says here: http://fictionmatters.blogspot.com/2008/04/holy-fiction.html
    (my apologies for not knowing how to creat a link inline…)

    Can you imagine everyone reading the Bible and “pulling what they want from it and leaving the rest behind”?

    We don’t have to try to defend or hang the author, but we should react to the themes and “point of view” as written. That is what writing is about. We should discuss what “our God” looks like and point out where we differ from the author.

    Reply

    • Mack
      Dec 21, 2009 @ 05:08:39

      I just found all of this. I must say that as someone who jokingly tells thier friends that “I’m still in peace talks with God.” This book may have been the seed needed to nail my knees to the floor… so to speak.

      I am replying to this particular comment, because… well, you’re question “Can you imagine everyone reading the Bible and “pulling what they want from it and leaving the rest behind”?” Shines such a light on most of these comments.

      It’s personally why I have doubted God so many times. Yes, I see the idiocy in blaming God for the imperfections of his followers. But everywhere I look I see ppl picking and choosing what suits them out of the Bible, and leaving the rest behind. I call it Christianity. A big reason why years ago in the mission field I wouldn’t dare utter that word for fear of losing my ministry.

      I don’t say this to critisize any of you… but reading the way you interact with each other… you have obviously chosen your parts of the Bible and are secure enough in your “rightousness” to tell others where they went wrong.

      There have been some great thought provoking comments made, but I must say, I personally didn’t see any from those tearing this book apart.

      Thanks Steve for the comment that made me laugh at the irony, and feel the need to add my two cents.

      Reply

  29. Ava
    Jul 16, 2008 @ 18:43:06

    You seem to miss every point I make entirely, and for that reason I choose to stop making them. It is obvious we have very different faiths, but from what I can gather, we agree on the important facts:
    1. There is a trinity
    2. Jesus is the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father except through him
    3. We are saved by grace alone
    If we agree on that, then I would have to say that no theological disagreement is worth driving a wedge between brothers and sisters in Christ. I would offer one last piece of advice though… Do not lose sight of the face of Jesus in your attempts to understand Him, you will only be greatly disappointed by your efforts. Gain knowledge through prayer and by being in the Word, and I am sure you will find that the entire bible and all of creation point to a beaten and bloodied man hanging on a cross and say, “This is love, He is what it’s all about” all we are called to do is live in response to that love. He even tells us how, “Love God, Love others” above all else.

    Reply

  30. Nicole
    Jul 16, 2008 @ 18:54:16

    I am not intentionally missing your points Ava, and am sorry if my responses have been taken as such.

    Thanks for the link Steve, I will take a look!

    Reply

  31. Nicole
    Jul 17, 2008 @ 06:55:05

    Ava, I was thinking about this last night, and I just want you to understand that The Shack is NOT a dividing issue for me. One of the girls who comments on here regularily is a friend from the last city I live in. I respect her no less for liking the book. 🙂 I am in no doubt of her salvation – and relate to her as a beautiful sister in the Lord.

    If this is divisive, it is not from my end.

    Reply

  32. Kiel Kinnaman
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 22:34:19

    I enjoyed this book… listened to the audiobook on the way home from Atlanta.

    I didn’t agree with everything, didn’t always look through everything through a “theological eye.” Going into police chaplaincy, I have been trying to find a way to explain some of the evils of this world. I think that this book does a good job of that.

    Does that mean I agree with everything that is written in the book about who God is? No. And you know what? It’s fiction! It sounds like many people are putting this book on the same level as scripture, which it surely is not.

    The reader must remember that when he/she is reading this book, that they are not reading the words of God. What they are reading is one man’s portrayal of who God is. I think sometimes we like to contain God to a comfortable systematic box and anything that breaks that mold frightens us.

    Don’t be afraid of this book, God is bigger than it. As someone who is preparing himself to deal with a lot of death, grief, and other human suffering, I found the book to be a good way of explaining what I have been processing for years.

    Just my opinion. Overall, good book… just remember, it’s not scripture.

    Reply

  33. Nicole
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 06:44:39

    “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

    It is not a matter of being afraid Kiel. I could bring up numerous verses that talk about protecting the flock, and teaching what is right. About the dangers of other gospels.

    I would (again) HIGHLY recommend John Piper’s Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, or his book When the Darkness Will Not Lift. You, and others who want me to relaz about it – keep reminding me it is not Scripture, while at the same time wanting to use it to help people deal with grief. If it is an unacceptable portrayal of God, than it has no use in my opinion. I do not think the god of The Shack offers as much comfort as the God of the Bible.

    You are going to be offering people a god who picks up the pieces, but never ordained the awful things in their lives to happen – I would strongly encourage you to read Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, and get a different perspective on that. There is great, great comfort in a God who is in control.

    What an exciting ministry though Kiel! What a beautiful opportunity you will have to see needs met! I pray that God will use you in a powerful way in this ministry!

    Reply

    • Mack
      Dec 21, 2009 @ 05:22:18

      ok needed to post again. Lord, help in this.

      I think that to say The Shack leads us to believe that God is not in control is a little over the top. I personally recieve from it that God is in control of everything but from a place of love allows us to make our own decision. God uses our decisions to work out the plan to the glory of God… and ultimately ourselves as well.

      IE: the evil of this world is not God’s doing… it’s our own. The man that molests a child is given a choice. He makes the wrong one… but that doesn’t mean God turns his back on him. God still loves him and wants to offer him salvation through Jesus. The man and the child are God’s beloveds equally. God can use that evil on the end of the man and the child to work his glory.

      Reply

  34. Don
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 11:28:23

    The theology is doctrinally perfect. The problem you see – a point you obviously missed – is that you have equated the authors intent to your perception of theology. The story is not only Biblical, it is very much what the Word (jn1:1) would have us do. Relationship with Christ is the ultimate goal of our walk – it is why he died on the cross – not because he wanted to, because he had to. It was the only way to restore that relationship.

    Reply

  35. Nicole
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 18:13:30

    “The theology is doctrinally perfect.”

    Which aspects are you referring to?

    Reply

  36. Lindsey
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 01:08:06

    Okay kids, listen up! I find it hilarious that you are disputing theology via blog. This is the point of the book EXACTLY! That God has NO interest whatsoever in the non-essential details of theology, he is after our hearts! I met the author and he is an amazing, down-to-earth guy. He wasn’t trying to prove anything when writing this book it was originally a Christmas present for his children to represent his way of thinking. Here’s an idea: maybe you could stop arguing in the name of Jesus on this random website and pick up the Gospel 🙂 I’m just saying!

    Reply

  37. raquelamisto
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:52:32

    Lindsey,
    That was the point of the book? To not discuss theology? Really?
    I was under the impression that it was about how Mack was angry at God and so he distanced himself from Him – and how the author attempted to give the Trinity a voice.

    Reply

  38. Nicole
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 06:48:46

    I am getting a little tired of people who want to dump and run on here. If you have something useful, or compelling to add to the discussion, that’s fine. But everyone, without exception, who wants to challenge my position on The Shack writes once, maybe twice and never returns to carry on a profitable dialogue. If you would have some specifics to discuss, I’m all ears. If you have Scripture you want to expound on, fantastic! But please refrain from making this personal and not sticking around long enough to defend your own position.

    Reply

  39. Lindsey
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 11:04:29

    I just think it’s silly to get caught up in the logistics of it all when in the spectrum of all eternity the only thing that matters is our relationship with God – NOT how well we can win an argument and be “pleasing among men”. I just felt the need to stick up for the author because so many people are ragging on him on your website and I don’t think it’s very fair.

    My point was that he wasn’t trying to follow doctrine, nor does he claim to do so. The fact that there is even discussion going on about his book is flattering to him because it means it had an effect on people. A “best-selling” book sells an average of 7,500 copies in its lifetime. “The Shack” has already sold over 2 million copies and counting when all it was to begin with was a FICTIONAL story written for his children, now I can tell you with confidence that the Holy Spirit was at work in this process.

    Call it a “dump and run” if you must, but I am done writing on this website because I don’t feel it’s a very loving environment. While you guys are discussing books, I will be in East Africa loving children and teaching them about Jesus. I don’t mean to sound hateful but I would like to challenge anyone who reads this to do rather than talk. “Mr. say is nothing but Mr. do is the man”

    “This is to my father’s glory that you bear much fruit SHOWING yourselves to be my disciples” John 15:8

    Reply

  40. {{strong.girl
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 12:49:44

    Lindsey –

    “Okay kids, listen up!” is probably one of the most condescending sentences you could ever begin with. Saying this blog isn’t “a very loving environment” is a little bit hypocritical. I have read this entire thread start to finish and didn’t find outright rudeness until I came upon your comment.

    Okay though, I can get past the “Okay kids, listen up!” comment, but when you throw out a comment like “do rather than talk” and condemn people for blogging “rather” than “doing” – when you don’t even know them – makes me angry. You have no idea what these people are doing in their everyday lives, especially for the glory of God.

    “This is to my father’s glory that you bear much fruit SHOWING yourselves to be my disciples” John 15:8 – Bang on girl, that’s the point. But how exactly does it relate to the people who have been discussing their opinions in this blog exactly? Perhaps they are “SHOWING” themselves to be His disciples by taking a stand for truth and the God they follow.

    I haven’t jumped in to this blog thus far because I don’t believe in arguing for the sake of arguing. But I had a good talk with my husband recently and I am beginning to understand the difference between arguing, and reinforcing what you believe, and taking a stance on theology because you don’t want to see your Creator twisted to suit people’s needs. My husband pointed out that sometimes making a stand for your faith can in fact strengthen it.

    If you were to take a glimpse into Nicole’s life (and I have, she is my sister-in-law) you will see all of the “doing” she does in the name of her Lord, and all the glory it is reaping for the Lord. Please don’t assume to know everything about people, or assume they are all talk, just because they blog.

    However, I do hope that your trip to East Africa is fruitful and that the Lord blesses your work. My dad is passionate for Africa and is going back with my mom in November (to Zambia and Zimbabwe). There is much good to be done there, and a Savior is desperately needed. Be blessed.

    Reply

  41. {{strong.girl
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 13:56:19

    Nikk – I came upon this verse today, and I felt it suiting to the discussions thus far.

    “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”

    Reply

  42. {{strong.girl
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 14:01:35

    (1 Timothy 6:3-5)

    ..Paul goes on to say “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.”

    Not pointing any fingers at anyone, I’m just trying to bring some actual points from scripture, as some people have been merely throwing out personal comments that don’t relate.

    Hope this encourages you Nikk.

    Reply

  43. susan
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 14:14:22

    yikes, if we believe the Holy Spirit is behind something because it is a best seller that’s a bit presumptuous. I have some good friends that enjoyed The Shack, and are in ‘awe’ of how ‘influential’ it is with so many people today.(being a best seller and all)

    A problem with this may be that ‘influential’ is not necessarily a POSITIVE term. If we all read our history books then i think we can indeed say some of the most influential people (ie//hitler) have NOT always had a positive, correct, or truthful INFLUENCE on society, no matter how well read they are.

    anyway, Nikk, i appreciate people with your gift, because i don’t have it. The body works together- you are discerning and you help those of us who are less discerning to keep our eyes and ears open.

    it isn’t ‘arguing’ trivial matters while the world wastes away. It is helping people understand more fully what they believe, and Who they believe in. Because we need both solid doctrine and a life of active faith. they go together. we are instructed to “watch our life and doctrine closely”, in 1 tim 4:16.

    love you Nikk. Take heart.

    Reply

  44. Emily
    Aug 15, 2008 @ 21:35:42

    It would have been interesting to see the reasons for not liking the quotes in the ORIGINAL post fleshed out more with THOUGHTS and not just quotes. I have to admit, once I saw that it was just quotes with pages, I didn’t read further.

    Awesome, challenging book. I couldn’t put it down.

    Reply

  45. Nicole
    Aug 15, 2008 @ 21:40:43

    Fair enough Emily. I have thought to post such things in the past – they are rarely well received… 🙂 If I get a chance this week, I may do so.

    Reply

  46. Laure
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 16:35:30

    I know that I am young and therefore will probably be over looked or just assumed to be ignorant. However I want to add something. I say the following not to offend but more in hope that you’ll look further into what you’re saying.
    The Shak wasn’t written so that Christians would be more open minded to what we (man) have deemed unacceptable and even sinful. The author is just trying to make a point. Not that God is a black woman or that Jesus is some unhandsome carpenter. Young just wants the readers to realize that God is so much more then we can fathom. We will never understand His ways. I like the fact that young went so far with his perception of God. Of course some christians are going to be upset because he is totally going against the grain. God is male and female and more then that. He is something that cannot be explained. He is everything. One of my favorite parts was when Mack asks God where He was in the midst of all the suffering and God says “I was there but perhaps you didn’t want to take your eyes off of the pain to notice me”. I agree, we get so caught up on our emotions that we don’t want to see God, feeling that He is a jerk anyways. Just because WE lack understanding. I’m glad that Young wrote this book. It will challenge many christians, as I see, to broaden their minds. As for God’s grace. It’s amazing… don’t underestimate God’s love. God can work through anything and anyone. Even an athiest, I’ve seen Him do it. So if you think that He can’t use this book to touch people, I think that you should take some quiet time to sit with the Good Lord yourself and ask Him to show you just how big He is. As for the trinity having names from other religions, who are we to say that it really is just a different name for God and so therefore it truly is the Trinity? I loved the part about Judgement in the book… there is no love in judging and there is only one true judge. Who are we to judge those other religions? No one. I’m not judging any of you either. I just felt like it needed to be said.

    Reply

  47. Laurel Esser
    Aug 21, 2008 @ 11:31:53

    I am also young in age so my comments back have nothing to do with how old you may be.

    I do have a few comments though – you said, “He is something that cannot be explained. He is everything.” actually He reveals Himself to us in scripture. He tells us what He wants us to think about Him. He shows Himself as our Father, our King, our High Priest, our Lord, our Savior. He came down to earth and spent years walking with man, we do not have to guess who He is – and yes, we are limited in our humanity to really understand Him, but He gives us more then enough information for our human minds to dwell on that we do not need to add to it.

    I suppose the other comment would be in regards to people who are suffering – the wishy washy, motherly hippy God in the shack does not in anyway provide comfort to me when in my suffering. The only God that has been able to pull me through the last few weeks is the one of the Bible. The one who is all powerful, all knowing, almighty. I do not need for God to come to me in any other way then what He has revealed to us in scripture. “I think that you should take some quiet time to sit with the Good Lord yourself and ask Him to show you just how big He is” – the God pictured in the shack is a shrunken version that lacks depth, size and reality.

    Reply

  48. Laurel Esser
    Aug 21, 2008 @ 11:33:36

    P.S. – don’t ever let anyone look down on you for your age, keep questioning others beliefs but always base your heart in scripture, it’s the only place worth starting.

    Reply

  49. susan
    Aug 22, 2008 @ 20:32:23

    Laurel your words always amaze me. you are very clear and grounded in the Bible, i appreciate you.

    oh yeah. i stopped by to see you yesterday, but you were away from your desk. 🙂

    love ya. su

    Reply

  50. Hannah
    Sep 09, 2008 @ 18:43:58

    Hey just reading through the thread…it made me laugh that even a Christian blog turns into arguments, ha ha. God has a job!
    I just wanted to point out that although the book deals with a lot of theology it is not actually the word of God and for me was really a person highlighting aspects of God we often overlook. I thought it was brilliant, Our minds need to be prodded about a bit and unsettled, it was also very touching in parts and made me really consider my relationship with God. Growing up as a Mormon but being saved earlier this year I found it refreshing to see God being pushed out of the box we all put him in and see him in a pure loving way. I think Young did an excellent work at getting those “works gospels” to really understand that God is love and only works with his children in that emotion.
    brilliant
    Hannah

    Reply

  51. Laurel Esser
    Sep 10, 2008 @ 10:12:45

    Well I will agree with one point – he does push God out of the box that we put Him in – he actually pushes Him beyond scripture and turns God into an african woman, makes him into physical form that we can worship, puts words into his mouth that he never said and paints a fantastically distorted picture of him. Horray for box pushers.

    I was wondering where in the Bible it says that God only works with his Children in the emotion of love?

    Reply

  52. Hannah
    Sep 12, 2008 @ 22:02:21

    I think you’re missing the point, Nobody knows what God looks like and in the Bible it certainly doesn’t say he is a black women but that wasn’t the aim. The reason God came like that to mack was because he knew that way mack would be able to learn to love him. to see him as a father would only cause mack to transfer his feelings toward his physical father onto his spiritual father. But Mack’s eyes were opened for a portion of the book, where Jesus wasn’t an untidy clumsy man he was a man walking in light and majesty. this was about a man’s personal walk with God. It was about the building of a relationship and receiving God’s healing. You are getting to caught up in the theology of the book. it’s just a fictional book. take from it what matters.
    Also are you saying that God deals with his children in another emotion other than love?

    nice to chat with you
    x

    Reply

  53. Nicole
    Sep 15, 2008 @ 07:04:13

    Should people who struggle with abusive Dads on earth start to pray to God the Mother, to feel more comfortable?

    Obviously, Young is addressing the deep needs of people. Answering theodicy is never easy – especially in a day of such flimsy doctrine. I just think the way he chooses to answer it leaves people with a poor reflection of our God.

    “It’s just a fictional book.” And Jesus expressed Himself OFTEN in parables. Young is not intentionally misleading in his novel – he intended to express truths. The Shack continues to stay on the top of a lot of charts – not because it a superb piece of fiction, but because it helps people find answers to their questions about God, and evil.

    I would say how God deals with His children, and how God deals with the world at large are two different things. But ultimately, it is not about us, but about Him, and Him being glorified.

    Reply

  54. Hannah
    Sep 16, 2008 @ 18:39:04

    I very much agree….but Mack didn’t pray for God the Mother… God appeared to him in a Mothering way or at least that’s the way Mack viewed him. God ultimately knew how best Mack would respond to him. The relationship was more important to God.

    It is about him completely but when I read this book I’m always drawn back to Mozart’s requiem which says “Remember, Merciful Jesu, that I am the cause for you’re journey.”

    God is on a mission to bring his children back to him, and we can’t be too cynical to how he does this
    x

    Reply

  55. Nicole
    Sep 16, 2008 @ 21:28:43

    What I really, really appreciate about you Hannah, is that you have chosen to continue this conversation. So, thank you for that.

    Beyond that – I disagree. There is most certainly an aspect of Christ’s coming that is about drawing us to Him – but His ultimate purpose was to glorify God.

    Reply

  56. Ambs
    Oct 01, 2008 @ 08:49:46

    The point of the book is not the gender issue, that many are having issues with. It’s about hope, it IS about glorifying God, no one is denying that, and that’s exactly what I did after I read the book. God did not come to Mack as a man, because Mack probably would not have accepted God that way. God will most likely never come to you or I in physical form, but he will come to us in a time of need either as a soft, loving, caring, feminine type of way, or a give me a bear hug type of masculine way. The story is an allegory like Hinds Feet on High Places.

    Reply

  57. Amber
    Oct 06, 2008 @ 17:03:22

    Hey Nikk,

    I completely lost track of this blog and then thought to check on it again. Glad I did. I always enjoy reading your opinions because you don’t offer them without backup – you always have a theological standpoint you are speaking from and not from emotions or the rose-tinted Sunday school glasses you learned through. I appreciate that about you.

    I do agree with Ambs that the real issue shouldn’t be about gender. God is God, no matter what form He would choose to take. He once chose to show Himself (as the Holy Spirit) in the form of a dove. Was he not glorified through that?

    I believe that it all boils down to whether or not God is glorified. What is the purpose of anything, if not to glorify God?

    I do not believe this book glorifies God. I believe it paints a watery disortion of what we think we need God to be. Therefore, it in a way is a lie about God. And again, FICTION OR NO, it IS being embraced by so many as truth. And that makes me very sad.

    Reply

  58. Linda
    Dec 12, 2008 @ 00:08:08

    Can this book improve the relationship a person has with family and inspire forgiveness and an renewed openness to God and Christianity? … Yes! It did with me and many others that I know. That makes it worth the read.

    Reply

  59. Phil
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 12:29:44

    I think the book is all of the above. In Mack it does a great job of trying to address the heart issues which many hurting people have with God.

    I disagree with many of the answers, but I applaud the attempt. Paul Young obviously knows the Bible well, but his weakness is that he tends to provide his own answers when those he finds there are unpalatable to him.

    All the same, The Shack is a great discussion starter, and even the parts where it is off base provide a good opportunity to go back to Scripture for the real answers, which why we are covering it in our home group.

    We discussed the gender issue last night, and the conclusion was that we should allow God to speak for Himself. If he presents Himself as a male, then it is His intent for us to relate to Him as such. That’s that essence of political correctness after all, that you refer to a person as they wish to be named.

    As to why, one might observe that the first attribute God reveals to us in Scripture is that of sovereignty or authority as Creator, that He invested authority in the first man and continued to do so in his male descendants throughout Scripture, and that an instinctive desire to exert authority and leadership is exists in the male personality to this day.

    In speaking to us as a male then, maybe God is speaking to all of us as our proper authority, or head, in a way which would not be communicated if he presented Himself as female.

    But that is speculation.

    Aside from that, I personally feel that gender goes beyond biology, that there is a spiritual aspect to it as well which is reflected in our personalities as men and women. In the resurrection we may not marry, but that does not mean that we will not be without gender, any more than we will be without personality. In other words, if we are raised as a completed version of ourselves we will be raised up as completed men and women, not as Teletubbies. So I question the book’s statement that God should be regarded as being sexless simply because He does not have a body as we do.

    Reply

  60. miranda
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 13:28:13

    hi, i don’t know any of you, and i just stumbled upon this blog while searching for some quotes from the shack. i am a relatively new christian and do not have much of the theological knowledge that most of you seem to have. it kind of bothers me to see so many of you arguing over this book. i’ve been dealing with a lot of pain in my life lately. i’ve been trying to cling to God, because i know that’s what i’m supposed to do, but at the same time, i’ve been very angry with him and so very confused. someone recommended this book to me, and as i read it, much of my confusion was gone with each page that i read. i know that this book is not directly from God’s word, and it’s not an accurate depiction of the comfort God gives us all. but nobody can offer than, not any author, not any of you. because nobody truly knows the heart of God. God reveals himself differently to every person. and you and i can read the exact same scripture and God will reveal something totally different about that scripture to each of us. i do believe that mr. young wrote from his heart about how God has spoken to him. does that make him wrong, just because it’s different than what God has spoken to you? no. but anyway, i just wanted to say that the shack has given me a fresh outlook on God’s love and his place in my life. and it has encouraged me to seek out more answers. to turn to God and really ask him to help me deal with my pain. instead of just sitting in confusion and loneliness and grief. i knew in my head that God cared and that he was there to comfort me and that it wasn’t his “fault” that i’ve been in so much pain, but i couldn’t let my heart feel that because i was so angry. this book helped give me that reassurance and motivation to seek God out and allow him to hold me and guide me through my pain and grief. and i think that was the intention of the book. you all are reading it, trying to be theologians, and trying to analyze everything the author said, trying to prove it either right or wrong, when it’s neither. you have to look at it with perspective. it spoke to me in a way that i could understand and gave me hope that i could find the answers i needed in the bible. when before i was almost scared of the bible because i really didn’t know where to start or how to comprehend what it was saying. and like i said, more than anything, anger was covering my eyes. so no matter how much i read from the bible, my heart wouldn’t let it in, because i was subconsciously blocking it out. anyway, i hope i don’t offend anybody by commenting on this blog, since i have no idea who you are. i just wanted to add my thoughts. thanks.

    Reply

  61. Nicole
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 13:50:57

    Miranda –

    My heart aches for you… I wish you could see how many people in my own circle are aching right now. It is not for lack of pain in my own life that I naively approach this book. Nor am I attempting to be an amateur theologian. It is BECAUSE so many run to this book that I say anything at all. People are finding hope in it, that I know is contrary to Scripture. The God of the Bible is love, and we can trust in Him, and take comfort in Him – but He is not at all like the god of The Shack.

    That is not speculative. It is not a matter of my interpretation vs your interpretation. What people are finding as a source of comfort in The Shack is a god who is not in charge. A god who is not responsible.

    I love that in the Bible God is in control. We can run to Him Because His hand is in everything. Because we can know that “all things work together for the good of those who love Him.” How can I know it will be for my good, if I can not believe He is responsible for the process?

    I am sorry you are in pain. I mean that. I do not mean to offer pat answers, or a quick summary. Suffering is hard. God never promises us that we won’t though…

    I would start in the Bible with the books of Job, John and Romans…

    Reply

  62. Trackback: Let Him Do What Seems Good. « Verity
  63. miranda
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 15:01:24

    i’m not sure i can believe that God causes bad things to happen. i really can’t. i believe he allows them to happen. to help us grow stronger. he has to let us be weak so that we can be strong. i don’t think that God wills bad things to happen. He didn’t will Adam and Eve to eat from the tree. He didn’t want that to happen. It broke his heart. But he let it happen, because he wanted us to have free will. He didn’t want to be a controlling God that forced us to love him. That would be no joy for him. He wanted us to choose to love him. You don’t want to have to force your husband or your wife to love you. You want them to love you because they truly do love you, because they want to. He created us knowing the pain he was going to have to go through because of our choices, but he decided that was worth it for the ones that did choose to follow him. I have a son. I knew before he was born that he would hurt me. I knew that he would grow up, make his own choices, do things that I didn’t agree with, hurt my feelings, disobey me. But that didn’t stop me from wanting him. That didn’t stop me from trying to conceive him. Because I knew that feeling that kind of love for another person was worth every bit of pain i was going to face along with it. But i would never make bad things happen to him, so that he would love me more. but if something bad were to happen to him, i would take that situation and use it to teach him all that i could and help make him stronger through the process. i feel that’s what God’s love for me is like. I definitely never understood it until i had a child of my own. and i still can’t comprehend His love for me, but it does help me attain some kind of grasp on it. so in response to you, yes i do believe that God is in control. He has control over every aspect of the universe. but i believe that part of that control is NOT controlling everything. part of that control is letting bad things happen sometimes. i still don’t understand why. even through what i’ve learned so far, i still don’t get it. i doubt that i ever will. maybe it’s not meant for me to understand why. but i’m slowly beginning to trust God again. and in order for me to do that, i have to believe the fact that the people i have lost…was not his fault. i have to believe that he didn’t make it happen. that is the only way that i can cope and learn to trust in Him for peace and comfort and love Him through every other aspect of my life. but that is just me. if it helps you more to believe that God makes things happen, then that’s good for you. whatever makes your relationship with him the strongest. but for me, because i believe that God does not force me to love him, i don’t think he would force bad things to happen to me. sorry i feel like i’m just rambling now. and again, i pray i don’t offend you. i’m just telling you how i feel.

    Reply

  64. miranda
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 15:08:06

    and one other thing struck me that you said. how do you know that the God depicted in The Shack is not who God is. God can be anything to anybody. He is God. He does not fit into one box, or one stereotypical mold. I am. that is the only stipulation God puts on himself. He can be whatever He needs to be to reach his people. He knows what forms will work most effectively for each individual. The form he takes in your life might not work for my life. No two peoples’ brain and heart function in the exact same way. So God cannot be the same to all people. He must be different for everybody. But at the same time, He is God. Who are you to say who God is and is not. He is the only one that can make that decision, whenever he wishes.

    Reply

  65. Nicole
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 15:46:52

    I want to say “good girl” – but I don’t know how to without patronizing. 🙂 It has been a long while since someone has taken the time to actually respond more than once on here – most people dump and run.
    I don’t have a lot of time, right now, to respond, but I appreciate you taking the time to share where you are coming from. I’ll expand on my own thoughts later – in the meantime, thank you.

    Reply

  66. miranda
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 15:52:17

    haha. i have nothing better to do today. lol.

    Reply

  67. Nicole
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 18:19:42

    that was harsh. 🙂

    regarding comment 64 – I think it is one of the most unfortunate traits of our post-modern society – the belief that all truth is relative. That your reality, and my reality can have equal merit, even if they come to polar opposite conclusions. I can not bring myself to “agree to disagree” on things like who God is, as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

    I realise I probably should tread more gently than I have – I suck at tact… I do not know who you have lost – a parent, a sibling, a son, a daughter. I do know that God offers comfort. I also know the Scriptures can be trusted, and they are FULL of instances of the Lord’s hand in death….

    My latest blog post (see comment 62) is one example. The book of Job is another. All of Job’s children were taken from him in a wind storm. And Job’s response? “The LORD gave, and the LORD HAS TAKEN AWAY, blessed be the name of the LORD. (Job 1:21)

    The Old Testament countless examples of the Lord defeating the Isrealites enemies (causing the deaths of those who fought against them) – there is no life that is not His to give, and His to take away.

    The parenting analogy fails. So many who struggle with my understanding of things say the same thing – “As a parent, I would never cause a bad thing to happen in my child’s life.” I would never allow my child to be raped. Or to lose a loved one…. But Paul in the New Testament understood suffering as a positive experience. “but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5

    Peter also says: “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:19

    Suffering in this life is temporary compared with the light of eternity. Suffering teaches us many things that the good in life cannot. My favorite passage of Scripture these days is 2 Corinthians 1:3-10. It is about why we suffer. Look at verses 8 and 9: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

    I do not think the Bible always provides us with the answers we WANT to hear. It rarely feels sufficient to believe that we suffered to be able to rely on God and not ourselves…. But God is incredibly close, and precious to us in suffering, if we are able to accept that He knows best, even in our grief. And that He longs to be the God of all comfort in our lives (2 Corinthians 1:3)

    Reply

  68. Jesi
    Feb 11, 2009 @ 20:52:56

    …How do you feel about The Chronicles of Narnia? It’s the same thing…

    Reply

  69. Nicole
    Feb 12, 2009 @ 07:43:00

    I love them. The Narnia series is not the same thing. Lewis made it clear that it was not allegorical. I have a hard time believing him 🙂 regardless though – there is a huge difference between a person writing a story in a sort of parable form, and actually making up a conversation with God, that God would never have. Lewis, in general has sound theology that comes through his writing. It points towards the God of the Bible, not away.

    Reply

  70. Carla
    Feb 21, 2009 @ 15:50:01

    The Shack was wonderful. The theology was solid and grounded in scripture. I am leading a chapter by chapter study on this book at my church. This book is bringing God to masses of people. I’m sorry some of you missed the blessing that it can have on your life. Sad.

    Reply

  71. bishop
    Feb 21, 2009 @ 18:34:06

    The theology was solid and grounded in scripture. I am leading a chapter by chapter study on this book at my church.

    I’ll then have to conclude that your church isn’t very theologically grounded—at least in any scripturally-based theology.

    This book is bringing God to masses of people.

    Yes, but is it bringing the masses to Jesus?

    I am curious, however, how you address some of the deeper theological implications and questions that are raised by individuals like Nicole and other groups that have expressed concern over various aspects of this book.

    I’m sorry some of you missed the blessing that it can have on your life. Sad.

    Rather than just submitting that some people have missed the boat, can you explain, specifically, the boat in light of the conversations and criticisms above?

    Reply

  72. alisa
    Apr 06, 2009 @ 11:38:57

    apparently most people miss the part on judgement in the book which is the message the bible gives us.believers know the difference between the bible and a book.But to say that the author had malintent would be to judge and i believe the bible to say thou shall not judge.who are we to say that This was not written to help some one draw nearer to God.????are we ever going to figure out Gods plan?I think not.I lost my child four months ago.I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God is taking care of him now.It didnt warp my faith or change my mind about the bible being Gods true word.I do however believe he knows my heart and as i read it,i cried tears of happiness.God has so many tools and we cannot judge by saying he didnt have a part in this book.we simply will never know that.HIs word is true and the bible is our source BUT HE HAS MANY!if it is for his glory then it cant be against him.He conquered death.not a book.he conquered all!JUDGE YE NOT!BY THE SAME MEASURE YOU WILL BE JUDGED.GOD BLESS YOU ALL,LOVE PEACE AND PRAYERS.LETS STOP PICKING ON ONE ANOTHER AND PRAY!

    Reply

  73. Jordan
    Apr 13, 2009 @ 01:11:56

    I enjoyed The Shack. I do not agree with everything in this book, but it is not the bible so I did not expect to. I do understand how certain parts would make some readers believe that the book is leading people down a path of falsehood, but after taking time to reflect I do not agree. I have seen arguments from people claiming that CS Lewis’ works were doing the same thing. This is the verse that first came to mind when I finally reached a decision on this:

    “Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

    If you continue reading in that chapter you will see:

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”

    So I see both sides of the argument. I believe you judge a tree by its fruits and after reading this novel I felt uplifted, peaceful, and filled with hope. I do not hang my faith on this book, and I do not believe it a bad thing for mature christians to read. I understand your concern that people who are grieving may find a biblically unfounded view of God here and that it will keep them from knowing truth; but I wholeheartedly believe that if anyone finds any comfort, peace, or respite from reading this novel that God is speaking to them through it and it is a success in my view.

    Reply

  74. laura
    May 10, 2009 @ 11:38:58

    I just finished reading The Shack. For the first time, I feel safe. I choose to believe it was divinely inspired, just as the Big Book of AA was. I choose to turn my will and life over to God. I asked Jesus to be my Saviour 10 years ago and have not drank since. I take Jesus’ last commandment to love one another to heart, and try to practice it. The Shack finally erased my fear of God that I learned by attending church. Whether this book agrees with people or not, it has helped me to love God more, and that’s a good thing.

    Reply

  75. Ashley
    May 17, 2009 @ 21:31:16

    I am looking for a quote from The Shack thats about a pearl.. it is talking about a pearl being the only stone that comes from hardship.

    Reply

  76. Karen
    Jun 29, 2009 @ 21:19:51

    With respect for everyone’s thoughts and feelings about The Shack,I would like to share that, as a former Sister of a Cathlic religous congregation, I did my fair share of theological studies. Still, I do not find The Shack spiritually offensive at all. In fact, it watered the garden of my soul!

    I really don’t think the author ever intended to write the book as a theological dissertation for exegesis , but rather an allegorical tale with a message for the heart. As with all words,it is the spirit of the message, any message, that speaks to one’s heart and soul.

    As Jordan shared, and so many others above , though using different words, a tree is known by it’s fruit. I personally have been blessed by reading The Shack, as I have been by so many of your thoughts as put forth above. Brandon, you are right on !

    Over the years, I have learned that there is a vast difference between relgion and spirituality. I know many religious people who don’t have a spiritual bone in their body. Being all about intellect, theology and religious academia can be good,however, these do not necessarily make one spiritual.

    Laura, though I remember the references to pearls in the book, I don’t know exactly where in The Shack the references are without rereading, which I plan to do. For me, The Shack is full of “pearls-” if read with an open heart.

    As I wrap it up here, allow me to share a quote from Lao-tse: “There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with a heart.”

    Reply

  77. Nicole
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 08:16:11

    Karen,

    Allow me to share a quote from Jesus “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life, no one comes to the Father but by Me.”

    Christ is the only true path.

    Reply

  78. miranda
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 10:08:16

    hey i’m sorry it’s been a long time since i ventured back to this thread, but the recent comments last night sparked my attention and i went back and re read this thread. and i realized i never responded to comment 67.

    specifically…
    “The book of Job is another. All of Job’s children were taken from him in a wind storm. And Job’s response? “The LORD gave, and the LORD HAS TAKEN AWAY, blessed be the name of the LORD. (Job 1:21)”

    that was just that, Job’s response. when others asked him why he didnt curse God, that was his response. but when you read the entire situation, it was not actually God that took away from Job. it was satan. yes God still had authority, he gave Satan permission. he gave satan free reign, with one rule. he could not take job’s life. therefore, yes God had control over Job’s life, but God himself was not the one that caused all of those things to happen to Job. Like i said before, God could have told Satan no, he could have said no leave Job alone, but he had faith in Job and in humankind as his children to trust Him. and he used Job’s circumstances to bring glory to His name! but still he did not do those things to Job himself.

    “The parenting analogy fails. So many who struggle with my understanding of things say the same thing – “As a parent, I would never cause a bad thing to happen in my child’s life.” I would never allow my child to be raped. Or to lose a loved one…. But Paul in the New Testament understood suffering as a positive experience.”

    i dont understand how Paul considering suffering a positive experience proves how the parenting analogy fails. how does that fail? i don’t argue that suffering results in a positive experience. and that it teaches us things that otherwise we wouldnt have learned. and i know that in my personal life, the majority of my suffering has been the result of being completely outside of God’s will for my life and because of my own sin. my suffering has been the consequences of all of my wrong turns. most of it. and i have learned that over this past year. i have learned very clearly that i can’t rely on myself and that i have to lean on God in every single moment for every single matter. and the moment that i start to fall back into my own independence is when things start to go haywire again. and God uses those consequences to bring me back to him and bring Glory to His name. but i still dont feel like God wants those things to happen, or creates them himself. and yes it is a comfort to know that God is in control of every situation. but having control doesnt mean that he causes bad things. allowing bad things to happen is part of having control too. because ultimately Satan answers to Him. Satan doesnt know that, but we as Christians know that Satan can’t do anything without authorization from God. he doesnt have that kind of power. he thinks he does, but we all have read the last chapter. we know that God has already won.

    “But God is incredibly close, and precious to us in suffering, if we are able to accept that He knows best, even in our grief. And that He longs to be the God of all comfort in our lives”

    i absolutely agree, and i think that is what the shack portrays. God does know what’s best, and ultimately, it doesnt matter why bad things happen. all that matters is God is who he says he is. He is the I AM. He is God, and he has the ultimate control and power, despite the failings and the tragedies of the world. and in the end he will bring his judgement down on all those who have gone against his will and his word…that is not our job. because like the shack illustrates, when we judge others, and when we are angry with God because of circumstances, we are judging God himself. and who are we to judge God?

    Reply

  79. Nicole
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 11:31:16

    Job did not sin when He said “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (2v10). He ultimately attributed what happened to him as being from the Lord. It was not just Job’s response – because the rest of the verse does indeed say “in all of this Job did not sin with his lips.”

    Suffering. 2 Corinthians 1 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It is a misnomer to suppose good things happen to people in God’s will, and bad things happen to people living outside of God’s will. To be sure, when we are not walking in obedience, there are consequences. But the passage I just sited reveals why we suffer (at least it addresses it in part):

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfortwho comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God… For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

    The reason I brought Paul up is because he suffered. For the Lord. With his eye on the crown of victory. Suffering is for those who take up their cross daily. Christ promised that we are not great than Him, our Master, and that we would suffer too. (John 15:20)

    “but he had faith in Job and in humankind as his children to trust Him.” Rob Bell, and those of his kind would have you believe God has faith in man. That simply is not taught in the Bible… I’m not really sure why people think that, to be honest.

    A couple more quick verses:

    Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come? Lamentations 3:38,39

    The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 1 Samuel 2:6,7

    Therefore let those who SUFFER ACCORDING TO GOD’S WILL entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19

    Thanks for sticking around Miranda, I appreciate it.

    Reply

  80. Jordan
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 11:58:41

    I would like to clarify that I do not believe there is any other way to receive salvation than through Jesus. In my comment I may have made it sound as if there was an alternative available, but that was not my intention.

    Also, I would like to say in response to a comment above that I too found nothing but fear when I was growing up in church. Teaching damnation to children wasn’t, I think, the best of all lessons that can be learned from the Bible at a young age. Fear is satanic and I believe there is no place for it in our daily lives.

    However once I became saved and have come to know God more there is a type of “holy dread” there. I do not think it is possible to live in relation to the Almighty and not recognize his power. I don’t know if any of you have read the Narnia series but its like when Mr. Beaver is speaking about Aslan “Of course he’s not safe, but he’s good.” Or to put it in strictly biblical terms: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

    We are promised not only salvation but sanctity and sonship from God. Look at what happened to his first son, Jesus. None of us will ever experience that amount of pain and sorrow- but have any of us ever doubted that God loved his son? So how can we doubt his love for us when similar (usually much less) hardships are set before us?

    Job was always the toughest book for me to swallow in the Bible it just seemed so UNFAIR. But the thing that helped me to understand was the fact that if God was completely FAIR even though Job was faithful, he was not perfect so he still deserved eternity in hell. God eventually blessed Job for his faithfulness as he promises he will, but he has never promised us life will be without pain. In fact he assures us of the pain.

    Anyways glad I get the email updates so I can be reminded to check back in here. Great discussion and I appreciate reading everyones take on this book/faith in general.

    Reply

  81. Nicole
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 14:35:31

    Thoughtful response Jordan, I like the way you explained your perspective.

    I love that line in Narnia…

    Reply

  82. bishop
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 14:55:38

    I merely find it amusing that some of you find Narnia to be amazing but ditch The Shack while using the same terminology for both. Having finally read The Shack (my ultra conservative fundamentalist father loaned it to me suggesting that it was not his cup of tea but “a very well presented read”–that shocked me considering some of the things I’d heard about the book from around here), I’ll have to respectively disagree with the majority of the neysayers.

    Not only is it a great exposition on the fluid and miraculous nature of God, but it provides in an equally allegorical form as Narnia some very basic truths of Christianity that need to be presented from generation to generation in new ways and new forms.

    Anything that does not change is not alive. This includes God. (And anyone that says God does not change hasn’t been reading their bible.) But it most especially includes your religion. The only reason it’s alive today is because it has adapted to the changes in society. But with all change comes those who would prefer the Church remain in the dark ages when dissent and conversation over the nature of God itself was condemned and forbidden. And these days the dark agers are winning the war against the bible, the church, and the truth.

    The bible is full of people who questioned both the nature of God and the existence of God. Righteous, holy people even. And most of you around here are a bunch of ninnies who are afraid that if you show once ounce of doubt you’re going to get struck by lightning or have the strings in your heavenly harp out of tune in that fine by and by.

    The tribal demon/deity that you people worship these days as some kind of end-all be-all of creation is full of contradiction and doubt. And that’s probably the only reason why I haven’t dismissed it entirely. God is ever changing. If he/she/it wasn’t changing then it (a) wouldn’t be God and (b) wouldn’t be worth the snot running down my kid’s nose.

    The Shack presents basic truths straight from the bible in a way that is capable of being understood by a new generation. Nothing wrong with that. Pilgrim’s Progress did the same thing and pissed off a lot of people too. When I was a kid, I remember dozens of preachers trying to convince people that Narnia was blasphemy or insignificant or not to be taken seriously in any spiritual sense. Now most accept is as mere allegory with great spiritual depth and a solid Christian message.

    Truth, my friend, comes in many flavors. We don’t have time or space here to deal with that. But the sad thing is that of all the religions in the world, Christianity is the one that is rapidly, headfirst, running away as quickly as it can from any kind of faithful presentation of that Truth in a modern world.

    Reply

  83. Karen
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 23:14:28

    John 14:6 is one among seven of the “I AM” statements of Jesus and, I think , one of the most quoted by Christian conservatives to support the belief that salvation and redemption can come only through Jesus. There’s a problem though: it does not concur with or echo Luke 10:25-28 in which a law man asked Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked him “what is written in the law?” The man responded :”Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus told him “You have answered correctly.” “Do this and you will live.” How are we to interpret this? Which is it? (Thinking out loud here..)

    Though I come from a background steeped in conservative and traditional Chrisitan beliefs, I think the problem of interpreting Scripture quotes literally and through our own “filters” and tossing them around to support our positions (and we all have done this at one time or another-no? I just did above) is that we end up misunderstanding so much of what Jesus really meant.

    Of all the Bible studies that I have participated in during my years in and out of religious life ,the one thing that has sunk in is that without an understanding of the following 7 keys to interpreting Scripture, we can veer off course.

    One of my favorite books is “Let There Be Light” The Seven Keys by Dr. Rocco A. Errico, an Aramaic Bibilical scholar , who, as the jacket of his book says, “builds a bridge between our Western ways of understanding and the Middle Eastern social realities that are embedded in the Bible. He helps the reader to see the Bible through Semitic, Aramaic eyes-a Jewish lens, so to speak-in its original language.” Dr Errico “bypasses doctrinal creeds and rigid interpretations…” I’ve met this scholarly and intelligent man at one of his conferences. He is privy to THE original Bible that was written in Aramaic.

    At any rate, I’d like to offer the 7 keys of what we need to keep in mind while reading Scripture (and I do read it) :
    1)The Aramaic Language
    2)Idioms of the time
    3)Mysticism
    4)Culture of the time
    5)Psychology of the time
    6)Symbolism
    7)Amplification(Semitic writers often amplified /exaggerated their descriptions for poetic effect)

    Basically, it boils down to the “historicity” of the Bible.

    Though (I think) we are all Christians on this blog, Jesus was a Jew and spoke Aramaic; He was not a Christian. He really wasn’t about religion, he clearly was about relationships ( I even read that in The Shack-ahem.)I learned in other classes that to understand Scripture, one must, as Dr Errico cites, truly understand the Jewish culture of the times, and the audience to whom the New Testament (originally written in Greek) writers were addressing their writings: mostly Jews and Greeks. And these were written some 50-70 years after the death of Jesus!I don’t know if I could write a “letter” (Gospel) 50 years after someone said something after only hearing about it from the oral tradition!

    At any rate, please be assured, I mean no offense to anyone on the blog-just sharing my spiritual journey and how I’ve grown (up) away from a paradigm of rigid, closed, exlusive, conservative religious ogma/tenets/beliefs to one of spiritual liberation! I’ve never felt closer to God in my life! I’m not afraid to explore, to question, to be open to admit “hey, we have it wrong.” What lens are we looking through? Why do Christian believe that the Bible is the “end of the Story” and that there’s no room for growth, change? I think God is alive and has much more to say.

    The words of Bishop Spong come to mind (he’s the retired Episcopalian Bishop of Newark, MJ.) As he puts it: “Christian’s don’t need to be reborn, they need to grow up.”

    For me, I choose to remain a Christian because that’s my path, and Jesus is my/THE Way Show-er to God. I respect other people’s faiths; perhaps if I were born in Iraq or other Muslim countries, I , too, would refer to “God” as “Allah.” Same with Hinduism etc. All these paths are leading to the same ONE GOD! Jesus said “In My Father’s House There Are Many Mansions….” There’s plenty of room for all us! I don’t think I would want any part of a Heaven that would exclude my brothers and sisters who believed differently from me. In my heart of hearts, I do not believe that GOD would slam the door in His/Her childrens’ faces–as a parent, would you?

    It has always been my firm belief that God’s Mercy is greater than God’s Justice.

    I, too, appreciate everyone’s input; thank you much; it’s all very healthy (me thinks.)

    Reply

  84. Karen
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 23:15:35

    WOW~I just looked at my post! I am so sorry it’s so long!

    Reply

  85. bishop
    Jun 30, 2009 @ 23:42:16

    Thanks for sharing, Karen. I find it refreshing that someone has actually taken the time to dig into such depths of the bible in ways that the average pewsitter doesn’t even begin to scratch.

    Not everyone here is a Christian. I love Nic to death. I’d give her shelter under my roof in a heartbeat because she took the time to get to know and understand the resident heathen. ;)) I certainly give her a hard time here and there. But I know she’s tried to call me a closet Christian in the past for my views and my penchant for sticking up for Christians in a scrap. I think I’m a disappointment to her nonetheless. 😀

    That said, I couldn’t be in more agreement with you that your last comments. (Absolutely love the Bishop Spong quote!) Christians in general tend to be stuck on their soapbox that never changes. Christ was one of the most anti-religious figures in the history of religion. He would be rolling over in his grave (sorry, it’s just an idiom!) if he could see his followers now and how they have built a religious empire over his personality while blatantly ignoring his teachings outright in favor of some half rate, backwater, hack writer who usurped the incredible message of Christ and turned it into a message of despair, fear, sorrow, and self-loathing that has been increased a thousandfold by the Church that encompasses these values (and worse) today.

    Most Christians are caught up in their religion and lack the understanding of the spiritual principles themselves. They are part of a Jonestown-like personality cult started by a man with a mystic vision in the desert who destroyed all the good that Christ taught and laid the foundation for the most insidious and destructive worldwide plague to ever hit the planet: Christianity.

    Most people here, Karen, wouldn’t understand the life and times of Christ if he came back today and charged them for yet another seminar, (I can see it now: “No, honey, I don’t want go listen to Jesus speak on “Christology From The Horse’s Mouth” during bible study. We have everything we need right here in the teachings of Paul. And he says …”) They have been fed on a Western evangelical hellfire and brimstone theology that has little to do with the teachings of Christ in the first place. They aren’t interested in the here and now but the future by and by.

    So when someone comes along and presents the same message of Christ in a new, understandable, creative, and groundbreaking manner? They run away and cry that it’s not their granddaddy’s religion anymore.

    And, to those, all I can say is thank God for small favors. Maybe there is hope for Christianity in the end after all.

    Reply

  86. Nicole
    Jul 01, 2009 @ 08:14:07

    I love you too Bishop. I am always thrilled to see you posting – because you can give me a hard time, and take it, and it never gets nasty, or petty….

    But I disagree. You are dealing with three different things (at least three – I sorta skimmed, I’m on my way out the door in half an hour) – the allegorical nature of the book, the immutability of God, and the whole religion vs we-really-love-each-otherness of Christianity. (or “why I hate most Christians” or whatever the emerging church calls it) There is not necessarily the cohesion to those thoughts that you have portended.

    As to allegory – Narnia was not written as such. To be sure, there is an allegorical nature to it, but that is not what Lewis set out to write. And, an ALLEGORY is very much different from what Young wrote. Young sat down, visualized the Father, the Son and the Spirit having a conversation on paper, and put that image forward. Which is not allegorical, it’s a stab at biographical – the same way people fill out a biographical novel – imagined conversations devised in large part by what we know of the characters we represent. And I think Young started on the wrong foot.

    Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.” God is immutable, although I believe He chooses to reveal different aspects of His nature to us at different times.

    You can’t start an argument about what we know about stagnancy in nature, and try to apply that to the God who created everything, as though God is somehow tied to our philosophy. I think there is comfort in knowing He is immutable, as opposed to believing if God doesn’t change with our times (and, we’re talking decades in the drop of the eternal bucket) then He can’t be God. Man’s logic.

    Gotta run, more later….

    Reply

  87. bishop
    Jul 01, 2009 @ 10:39:23

    I think what you’re missing is that, like much of the bible itself (from an academic perspective at least), The Shack is theological fiction (I may have to explain this a bit better another time to clear up what I think will cause even more confusion by such a term). It is a stack of paper with truth in it with creative opportunities taken to present that truth. Nothing wrong with that at all—the bible itself does the same thing more often than not. It’s when those particular fictions/allegories are taken literally as absolute fact that things get weird (or religions like Christianity are born).

    Insofar as the immutability of God: if God is not consistent with his creation then you have a paradox that you cannot explain outside of convoluted mental gymnastics (and most Christian theologians will at least agree that God cannot act outside his own nature). God, as defined by lay Christians, is limited by his own nature. There are some things that God cannot do. That’s not an immutable entity in the sense that God cannot change at all. The God of your bible changed all the time. Just because you can quote the usurper and destroyer of Christ’s message doesn’t mean that you’re catching the essence of the God of the bible. Paul needed an immutable deity in order to counter the petty and childish gods of the Romans and other pagans of his time.

    However, this is not the particular thread for this debate. ;)) And I certainly didn’t mean to cause it to take away from the subject matter at hand. I apologize.

    But, in any case, it is in the anthropomorphizing of God that Christians run into trouble in the first place (even with a book like The Shack). And, hence, why so many get upset when someone comes along and presents an anthropomorphism that doesn’t match their own prejudices. My father was more upset by the depiction of God as a black person that even as a woman or the various other issues that most take with Young’s creative liberties. Personally, I found it liberating that someone would finally break through the barriers of an Anglo-Saxon Godhead and challenge people’s prejudices head-on with courage and dignity.

    Reply

  88. Nicole
    Jul 01, 2009 @ 15:52:22

    DIGNITY Bishop? With Christ spilling a bowl of pasta, and being accused of being “slippy fingers”? With the Father dancing around to funk music? Hardly a dignifying, glorious, reverent depiction of God.

    I’ll be honest – I don’t feel particularily threatened when a thelemite and a universalist are the ones defending the theology in the book. 🙂 I disagree with your take on the fiction in the Bible – but understand what you are trying to say. It’s not the FORM I am challenging – which is why I have no problem saying I like Narnia but not The Shack – I would feel differently if the theology were more accurate.

    I have said this before (who knows how many comments ago) – people on the one hand want to tell me that the book is a work of fiction, has no theology whatsoever – and on the other hand tell me how much it has changed their understanding of who God is. It can’t be either/or. The book is not generating 20 and 50 hits a day on my piddly little site because people think it was a cute story. It generates so many hits because people are believing the God it presents. Because of its theology. Which, as you said, is not a direct factual presentation of it. But creative or no, the ideas are there….

    I don’t see God’s character as inconsistent in the Bible Bishop…. and I’m not even going to touch on the Paul comment in there…

    I don’t like when comments come down to the argument of “the neysayers don’t like it because it doesn’t look like their RELIGION”. You should know me better than that by now Bishop. That many people have the inability to connect their religious, Sunday morning experience with their regular lives does not make for a great cookie-cutter argument for why I don’t like the book. I don’t like it because the portrayal of God in it is unbiblical, and unfortunate. It has nothing to do with how well I do, or do not, live out my own theology.

    I should clarify friend – I have never thought you a closet Christian – I have thought you too far from the truth for that… You’re just forever on the cusp of understanding it, and I keep waiting for the day the Spirit actually gets a hold of you… should your heart be open to that.

    Reply

  89. Nicole
    Jul 01, 2009 @ 15:59:24

    Karen,

    sorry, it’s Canada Day here, and I am short on time, I will address your thoughts tomorrow….

    Reply

  90. bishop
    Jul 01, 2009 @ 18:22:50

    The problem, Nic, is that you don’t actually believe in the humanity of Christ no matter how much you preach it alongside his divinity. You degrade Christ into a mere superhero without any real humanity at all.

    You must believe that Christ never smashed his finger with a hammer (he was a carpenter after all). You must believe that Christ never spilled water on the ground (literally or figuratively). You must believe that Christ never had an erection. These are all human attributes that Christians overlook in their “fully human and fully god” presentation of Christ. They want to give him the “fully human” so that they can feel good about him overcoming temptation in a desert (where no one else was around to witness and record those events anyway) and dying for their sins. But when you actually bring in real human attributes to Christ (fumbling around with a bowl of pasta is the least disquieting of qualities that could have been depicted, I think), Christians get all defensive and contradictory.

    Remember, I’m not defending the theology of The Shack. I’m suggesting that there is nothing wrong with the presentation of the values within the book itself and that those values have meaning that remain firmly fixed within the Christian paradigm without compromising the message of the bible itself (as Christians read it, at least).

    Oh. And God dancing to funk music? Beautiful. But I’m guessing you haven’t read the Old Testament in a while. God loves music. And I doubt that one generation’s music is the previous generation’s idea of “good” music back then anymore than it is today. The bible never said what kind of music God likes. Just that he proclaimed that people make a joyful noise. I’m pretty sure that funk falls into that category too.

    Dignity? Respect? Reverence? If all that means “stuffy” and “stiff-necked” and “hardened heart” … then I doubt God has much use for it either. The fact remains that there are far worse and horrifying depictions of God in the bible that you overlook.

    Love ya, Nic. But let’s not sink to making assumptions about each other’s positions. We’ve come too far over with each other to start that now. ;))

    Reply

  91. Jordan
    Jul 01, 2009 @ 18:49:41

    Wow I want to contribute to the conversation but I’m afraid I can’t keep up with you two well enough to say anything meaningful lol. I suppose that is completely my fault, and I thank the both of you for spurring me to more clearly define what my beliefs are in my own mind.

    I didn’t see anything wrong with the depiction of the Trinity as it was in The Shack. It seemed a little bit gimmicky to me but that is all. That being said I don’t think being in the presence of the creator of all things will be anything like what was shown but I guess we’ll see when we get there ;).

    Has anyone read the book by C.S. Lewis called “The Great Divorce”? I can’t wait for when we reach heaven and some of these differences we have now will just “fall away” and seem completely silly to us from the other side. I know I have views which are incorrect and I pray that the holy sprit will show me where I am wrong so that I can live in complete truth. Anyways keep commenting, it makes my workday go by much faster haha!

    Reply

  92. Nicole
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 06:49:42

    I hate the Great Divorce. It made me quite sad actually….

    Great points Bishop. Of course I believe in Christ’s humanity. Depicting Christ in human form really wasn’t my concern with the book. And, I love that the Bible says God will rejoice over us with singing… But I think, as I blogged elsewhere, that a person treads on thin ice/dangerous ground/whatever analogy you want to use when they give an image to the Father.

    I think that most Christians have a hard time finding a balance in worshipping Christ in both His full humanity and full deity. I would agree that I err on the deity side of things, which leaves me missing out on things such as His ability to sympathize with our weakness, etc….

    Reply

  93. bishop
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 07:18:28

    But I think, as I blogged elsewhere, that a person treads on thin ice/dangerous ground/whatever analogy you want to use when they give an image to the Father.

    Ahh. Yes. We could get into the semiotics of the Godhead in various forms and spend days on that one alone. But, generally speaking, I completely concur that this is going to be the sticking point for everyone. Whether a lion or a black woman, some images are going to work for some people over others.

    And in the end on person’s sacred cow is another’s filet mignon.

    Reply

  94. Nicole
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 07:23:01

    Hi Karen –

    “I’ve never felt closer to God in my life! I’m not afraid to explore, to question, to be open to admit “hey, we have it wrong.” What lens are we looking through? Why do Christian believe that the Bible is the “end of the Story” and that there’s no room for growth, change? I think God is alive and has much more to say.”

    Sanctification is an ongoing process. I don’t know of any Christians who would say their walk is stagnant, intentionally. We have seasons, to be sure, where our growth and change is not what it ought to be, but that does not mean we are recommending a blah sort of existence. Of course God is alive, and active, and working in us. But I do not need to believe in the Bible and _____ for that to be true. I believe God speaks to me, usually through the Word, occasionally apart from it. But going to the Bible, as a plumb line, is how we can know that what we are hearing is consistent with what God would actually say…. It is how we distinguish His voice from false ones.

    “I don’t think I would want any part of a Heaven that would exclude my brothers and sisters who believed differently from me. In my heart of hearts, I do not believe that GOD would slam the door in His/Her childrens’ faces–as a parent, would you?

    It has always been my firm belief that God’s Mercy is greater than God’s Justice.”

    Those are just FEELINGS though Karen, based on man’s ideals, and the way we might run a universe if we were God… The truth is, He is holy, and His goodness demands justice. He cannnot be in the presence of sin, He provided a way for us to be cleansed and made holy, and apart from that way, we are still dead in our trespasses and sins. It becomes a circle though – you can believe just enough about the God of the Bible to call yourself a Christian, while still giving yourself license to throw out the parts of it you don’t like.

    That sounds harsh… I understand. I lost an uncle this past year that knew nothing about my God. He, and his family mocked my Mom and her Christianity. His son asked me at the funeral what I really believed happened to his dad, and what he should tell his ten year old daughter. When push comes to shove, the Gospel I believe in does not always seem more beautiful. It becomes difficult in the nitty gritty moments of life to express that apart from Christ is damnation….

    Reply

  95. Nicole
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 07:25:29

    LOL – way to throw in a dig at Lewis. Aslan represented Christ. You’re very polite about calling someone a hypocite Bishop.

    Reply

  96. miranda
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 07:48:51

    i just want to say that i totally agree with most everything bishop has said so far.

    i have nothing against you nicole, but i feel like if the bible had not mentioned the fact that God appeared to Moses as a burning bush and somebody wrote about that in a story, you would be throwing a fit about that. I just don’t understand how you can say the book depicts God doing things that He simply wouldn’t do. I don’t understand how you can say what God will and won’t do. He’s God. He can do as He pleases. I don’t think the Shack covers up the gospel of Jesus’ death on a cross and what that means for Christians. and when it comes down to it, that’s the only theology that’s really important. and if the book helps in bringing people to Christ, then it has served a purpose. while everything in the book might not be theologically correct, if it tugs someone’s heart and gets them searching, then why is that so horrible?

    Reply

  97. bishop
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 08:47:01

    But keep in mind that when I was a kid, “Aslan represents Christ” was preached from the pulpit as heresy and erroneous theology. So it’s not a dig, it’s merely pointing out that imagery changes with the times. As it should. What works for some doesn’t work for others.

    Reply

  98. Nicole
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 08:56:50

    Because we are told that “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and TRUTH.” John 4:24

    Truth is important to God. I have never met a person who felt flattered by the idea that they don’t really need to be known to be appreciated. The whole of the Bible is important. I understand that what you are trying to say is that only to gospel message of Christ’s death on the cross is of salvific importance – but I believe the NT offers more qualifiers than that… I think there are a great many people in North America who will say “Lord, Lord” on the day of judgment, and He will say to them “I never knew you.” Scary thought Miranda. Too many profess to “believe Jesus died for their sins” and go on their merry way.

    I am not saying what God can and can not do. I can say what I believe God has chosen to reveal about Himself in Scripture. Which ought to be our starting point. Too many people are trying to tell me who God is, because they read about it in The Shack. That’s bizarre.

    I’m not throwing a fit Miranda. I am cautioning people to think about what they are actually doing when they okay a book that portrays the Father as a fat black woman dancing around in her apron to funk music. It’s irreverant. People have no concept of how great a God they worship, if they make something so very human acceptable.

    If only Christ had shown up in the book, as Christ, I would still find fault with the theology. The way theodicy in general is handled in the book is unfortunate, and leaves people with a cosmic teddy bear that sweeps up life’s messes….

    Reply

  99. Nicole
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 09:01:59

    Why should it change with the times Bishop? I think changing with the times is a glorified way of saying we’re becoming more tolerant…
    Either it’s truth or it isn’t.

    We do have different things we tolerate. I have tattoos, enjoy smoking the occasional cigar but won’t let my kids watch Harry Potter because I think messing with magic, and getting a thrill from that sort of thing is scary business. My best friend feels the exact opposite on those issues. We have different liberties. But if our consciences are not in line with Scripture, there is a problem. And if our understanding of who God is is also not in line with Scripture, there’s a problem.

    Reply

  100. bishop
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 09:05:27

    Ahh. See? Again we’re starting to agree on things. That could be dangerous.

    Reply

  101. miranda
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 09:32:06

    i never said that’s who God is. I’m just trying to understand why it’s so wrong to see that as an aspect of God’s character. yes God is a great God. he is an awesome God and a fearful God and a just God, but you can’t focus on one or a few attributes of Him. while i believe that God is a very holy God worthy of the utmost respect and reverence. I do also believe He is a personable God and He would most certainly dance to funk music with me. In fact he does it everyday. He doesn’t frown on me when i dance to TobyMac or the likes of Christian artists who are delivering His message to a different generation. And He can most certainly be a cosmic teddy bear who sweeps up life’s messes. he has done that in my life several times. growing up without a father, i finally learned when i became a young adult that God was always there for me as that Father figure. when i needed a daddy to cuddle up next to, or when i needed a lap to crawl up in and bury my head in a shoulder, God became that for me. He was Abba to me. that is most definitely a teddy bear image in my mind, just like the daddy i’ve always dreamed of having there for me. i’m not necessarily saying that is who God is, but it is definitely one of the many images of God that i have. at another time i fall on my face and cry holy holy holy is the Lord God almighty. God has been everything that I need Him to be in my life. maybe that is wrong of me to form images in my head of who God is to me, but it’s how i have learned to hear His voice. And even though you don’t feel like this book was a good source of comfort in your opinion, it was to me. Not everyone is comforted in the same way just as not everybody grieves in the same way.

    Reply

  102. Nicole
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 11:10:16

    Well, I think we’re clarifying, which is good. Certainly, God is a Father. My favorite passage of Scripture of late is 2 Corinthians 1 – which is about the comfort that God offers us. A beautiful image of His protection. I wish though, that people could see that He offers this, not because of the bad that happens in our lives, but often through those times as well.

    I have had a few people in my life lately tell me they would not trade the hard months they are going through for anything. One of them was trying to function in their home while dealing with insomnia, and sleep deprivation. The other, through their marriage falling apart, is experiencing God’s closeness and comfort as He brings healing to her and her husband. I talk with friends who suffer miscarriages, and husbands with porn addictions that the Lord uses to draw them to Himself. But the misnomer is that the Lord is not actually involved in the bad, but only the healing. I understand I am treading on complicated ground. I try, as much as possible, to recommend people to Piper’s book “Suffering and the sovereignty of God” – which I believe is a fair and biblical handling of God’s role in our pains…

    Reply

  103. Karen
    Jul 02, 2009 @ 21:04:57

    Nicole et al ~hi,

    Tattoos? Cigars? Really Nichole? I would have never guessed! 🙂 Seriously,though I personally would never get a tat,but have had a cigar, I LOVE it! I admire the courage of your religious convictions, Nichole, though we differ on many points. This is good, and healthy! It is always good to hear/critically read books with views opposing one’s own, and that goes for me , too! That’s how we stretch, grow, mature in our faith walk.

    Now doooon’t anybody have a “Shack Attack”
    🙂 , but God appearing to Mack as a Black woman is not beyond the extremes God will go to meet a person where s/he (the person)is at and exemplifies God deep love for us, His/Her creation. Mack had a horrid , “relationship” with his own father and a deprived childhood. God appeared to him in an off the wall manner to get Mack out of his head and constructs of who/what God is (we all have our “image” “idea” of who/what God is-our own filters; we’ve made God into our likeness and image of him/her;) some realize this, some don’t . God did not appear to Mack as “Father/male” because God knew Mack wouldn’t be open to starting a relationship. At any rate,this odd appearance of God certainly got Mack’s attention. I think God gets exasperated and frustrated a lot with our doggedness and insistence that religion, the Bible, Bible quotes etc. are our Rock. What would be our security blanket without these; what if there was no Bible, no religion? All these are wo/man-made. Why, we’d have to cling to God as our Security!

    I think sometimes we are so stuck in our own exclusive beliefs that they themselves (our beliefs) need healing and revision. I can’t help it,I’m sorry Nichole, I love how Bishop put it:…… (I can see it now: “No, honey, I don’t want go listen to Jesus speak on “Christology From The Horse’s Mouth” during bible study. We have everything we need right here in the teachings of Paul. And he says …”). That is exactly what we do!

    We are so certain we have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We clutch our Bibles, hit one another over the head with Scripture quotes to make our point. Fact is (not feelings, fact:) No one person, no one religion has all the truth. Rather, each religion has a piece, a part, of the truth.

    Perhaps ? you have all heard of the story (and I’m sure I’m paraphrasing incorrectly, but the gist is there) of 2 people each around a statue (not necessarily a religious statue.) One in the back, one in front…you get the idea. Anyway, one says “Such a beautiful face and countenance; such deep and loving eyes, such a smile …..” The other says , “There is no face, just a back, there is NO face,I say!” And so the argument ensues……We do that! Because we do not possess the whole truth. We delude ourselves if we think we do.

    For me, the Bible is the ultimate spiritual tool/resource on my journey with God in me . But it is not ,for me , (now hang on)the end all, be all. No heresy meant here. Both the OT and NT writers were human beings.Yes, inspired by God, one could say, just as today’s artist and poet can be inspired by God. Inspiration is from God.

    When I make a retreat,there are times I feel, yes,literally feel, not read/heard about, that I am face to face with our living God. I could write a tome on it. And you can , too. If someone reads it, they’d say, wow, this person had some kind of experience and wrote it down. They were really inspired. But did God dictate the words? Nooooo.

    When the Gospel writers wrote, they had the OT “in front of them.” Most of the NT is lifted right out of the OT, as proven by Biblical Scholars who pour over the historicity of the book ; in fact, the correct order of the Gospels is Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. Not Matthew,Mark, Luke and John, as I was taught and believed for three fourths of my life. The Gospels contradict one another in so many accounts of what happened, how it happened, when it happened. Forgot how many, but they don’t even all agree on the virgin birth.

    The concept of resurrection is not new when written about in the NT. The concept of resurrection was a Jewish concept,written in what’s called Jewish “midrash.” Here’s a sample definition from Google: Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש‎; plural midrashim, lit. “to investigate” or “study”) is a Hebrew term referring to the not exact, but comparative (homiletic) method of exegesis (hermeneutic) of Biblical texts, which is one of four methods cumulatively called Pardes. The term midrash can also refer to a compilation of homiletic teachings (commentaries) on the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), in the form of legal and ritual (Halakhah) and legendary, moralizing, folkloristic, and anecdotal (Aggadah) parts.

    It is a form of story telling. They wrote about Kings rising from the dead in the OT. (I don’t have the exact passages, sorry .) Midrash and amplification were use to make an emphatic point. To say someone resurrected is to say they were a powerful King, etc. (NT=Jesus, the Ultimate expression of God in human form.) Virgin births were written about in the OT.

    I don’t want to know about God only from the Bible. I want to experience him/her! I don’t want to read about a lover, I want to be with, experience the lover, our Creator!

    I think we’ve done God an grave injustice by imprisoning and limiting him/her in and to a book ! God wants a living, pulsating relationship with us.

    I am into mysticism; have studied some of the great mystics and their writings.(I’m certain others here have too; I am not unique in this.) John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, CKatherine of Avila, to name a few. I strive for a tangible relationship with God; I know, you are going to say “feelings” again. But, believe it or not, God speaks to us through feelings, intuitions, promptings. Yes, discernment is essential.

    Switching gears here: Consciences: as a psychiatric nurse, I can tell you that one’s conscience is not always a reliable barometer of whether or not a person is in alignment with higher goals/values. Many people have malformed consciences: some have nearly zero, others suffer with scruples. How do you tell someone who cannot “forgive” themselves for spilling water (ridiculous,eh?), how do you tell them, “read this Scripture…does your conscience feel in alignment with it? I also knew some Sisters in the convent who suffered from terrible scruples; no therapist, no dispatch to Hell, no punishment from a “Just God” could cause them more pain than their unfounded scruples. It’s sad. I only bring this up to support the fact that conscience is not always a good guide.

    Suffering: I disagree with Piper et al stating that God “ordains” suffering. I believe that God “allows” suffering for a higher good. God writes straight with crooked lines. Suffering is a part of being human. Most of our sufferings are self induced: things didn’t turn out the way we wanted; we didn’t get the job, promotion; a child is handicapped. These things do not cause the suffering. Our refusal to accept the situation is what causes suffering. Our attachements cause suffering. Detachment from outcomes is the key to reducing a lot of our suffering. Hard to do? Nearly impossible, but the goal for all of us.

    While Jesus was on earth and during his public life, his main mission was healing people and getting them into relationship with God, his Father ! Healing them. Not celebrating and rejoicing in their suffering, or to start a religion. Jesus was So against established, institutional religion, as someone said above. He raised the dead (whether literally or figuratively.) The blind could see (again, referring to “spiritual blindness.) He was the Ultimate Healer, the Ultimate Metaphysician! Lucky for Lazarus! And Jairus’ daughter!

    I prefer to focus on and celebrate the Joy of Christ,God’s Joy. Jesus suffered; it’s done; “it is finished.” While remembering Christ’s suffering with profound gratitude, also remember it’s Easter! BTW-check out Jesus’ last 7 words while on the cross uttered in Aramaic, as per Rocco Errico.

    Here’s a piece of heresy: I no longer believe we were born in “Original Sin.” I believe we were born into “Original Blessing.” Look at a newborn baby! Do you say: “what a sinful, pathetic wretch!” So full of sin, so ugly. What a worm!

    If push came to shove,it doesn’t affect or shake/rattle/roll my faith in God or Jesus one bit if Mary wasn’t a virgin when Jesus was born, or if Jesus really didn’t rise from the dead. That’s all theology,Council of Trent, Council of Nicaea , Constantine stuff. Pick and choose what books will/wiill not be included in the Bible.

    I have to share this with all of you: having been a traditional Catholic for so many years (am still am; or am I?) No one was more shocked than me when I studied theology at Loyola University in my home city of Chicago and learned from my priest professors that the first 11 books of the Bible are allegorical stories , but have a powerful message. CAN you imagine my shock and awe?! My jaw was jacked!

    Sorry, another long post; I just love sharing thoughts , others’ input. As always, no offense (offence?); I respect where each of you “are” in your faith journey and the form(s)that takes.

    PS: I didn’t proofread-too long. Sorry for typos.

    Reply

  104. bishop
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 08:27:56

    There is so much there to digest, I’m not even sure where to begin.

    Generally, I’d have to agree. Aside from the some minor issues here and there, the content itself is really quite a piece of work. :/

    Just a couple of things I wanted to bring to the surface.

    1) You mention the New Testament authors using the Old Testament as their guide. I have a standing challenge—that remains unanswered everywhere I go, I might add—for anyone to defend current church doctrines using first century apologetics: that is to say, defend what they believe through the Old Testament only. They can’t. Given that Paul created most of Christianity’s doctrines out of thin air without any solid scriptural (OT) support, his word became the new scripture when it supported the personality cult of Christ rather than the message and mission of Christ.

    2) Christians are very concerned with what God can’t do. Human beings are the greatest limiters of God. God can’t dance. God can’t be black. God can’t enjoy a bowl of spaghetti. God can’t hurt anyone. God can’t cause suffering. God can’t inspire a new book for the bible. God can’t … Christians are afraid of their God while giving lip service to love, adoration, and worship. When faced with what God can do, Christians are afraid of that raw power and have to anthropomorphize God into something they can control (while, of course, suggesting that they are the powerless ones and it’s all just metaphor … until someone attacks their metaphor).

    3) Seriously. Most Christians believe their bible comes from Zondervan, God must be a stockholder, and that it must have always looked like that (footnotes and all) from the very beginning of time when Moses sat back and recorded God creating everything from nothing (after creating Moses … of course … from nothing … before everything … or something). But that’s okay. Most Christians also believe that there was some kind of standard orthodoxy that popped right out of the first century and has remained unchallenged ever since.

    4) I disagree that the first 11 books of the bible are allegorical. They are historical in nature. (I can hear Nic falling out of her chair already. Go grab some coffee, dear. I’ll still be here. Phtppp!) They are, however, theological fictions. Christians lack the ability, usually I mean, to understand that there are varying levels of truth. They need a single Truth in order to feel secure. They lack the ability to understand that just because something is fiction does not mean that it is not true or representative of the Truth. The bible holds historical facts. Archeology continues to provide evidence that support the stories within the bible. Christians hold up this evidence as proof of the accuracy of the bible and miss the point entirely. Nearly all of the history of the bible (and more specifically the Old Testament) is written from a single, theological perspective. It was not written as a history text but as a theological text. As such, the stories are fictional accounts to make points, ratify national (Jewish) pride, and/or promote a single ideology through the liberal use of historical events given in specific theological contexts. I’ve said the same thing before (and by way of example): did Noah really exist given that the story of the flood predates the biblical account by several hundred years in that region alone and nearly 1500 years over in China? Probably. But who cares? Debating the accuracy or literalness of that particular flood story misses the entire point of why that story is even in the bible. It is true, yes. It is truthful, most likely within a particular perspective or two. But it holds a truth far greater than its specific details which are conflicted, contradictory, and conflated. It’s a theological fiction written for a purpose that is lost on so many who need to believe in its literalness to feel secure. Christians are so concerned with proving their scripture as the only piece of truth on the planet that they destroy what truth is really there and provided to humanity for their salvation and edification.

    5) Most Christians don’t realize that the primary author of modern Christianity was a mystic too. It doesn’t get much more cliché when one realizes that Paul had a mystic experience in the desert just like nearly every other prophet in the world. When Paul has it, it’s okay. When anyone else has it, it’s of the devil. Christ was a radical. Paul was a coward and a con man. Granted, Christianity wouldn’t have survived very long if Paul hasn’t changed the message of Christ into something more mainstream, fused it with his pagan proclivities, and stripped it of its radical nature. But nonetheless, the Christianity of Paul is nothing like the message of Christ. I knew that as a ten year old studying the bible. It was as clear as day when you put the two side by side. I’ll take the message of Christ any day. The Christians can keep Paul. 😉

    Reply

  105. Nicole
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 13:14:46

    Karen:

    “God appearing to Mack as a Black woman is not beyond the extremes God will go to meet a person where s/he (the person)is at and exemplifies God deep love for us, His/Her creation.”

    It amazes me that for all the talk from people about thinking outside the box, and having these new ideas about God, everyone seems to ultimately bring forth the same arguments about why The Shack is acceptable. The comment you made has been made time and again, but I really, really don’t see Scrpiture filled with the idea of “God meeting us where we are.” The Bible does say we will find Him, when we search for Him with all our hearts. I don’t think God is on a mission to be found by everybody.

    I believe some suffering is self induced… I am sure you see more of that than I might. But your spouse having an affair is not self induced. Miscarrying is not self induced. Losing an unbelieving brother is not self induced. Watching your dad walk away from your mom after twenty years of marriage is not self induced. Adopting a child, and only learning after that they have epilepsy is not self induced. Hurricanes are not self induced…. So where do we go for answers when we become casualties in life? If we believe in a divine being, we either accept the fact that He could have done something about our hurt, but didn’t; He “allowed it” to happen (which is really the same as the first) or He is sovereignly in control of all things, and decreed what happened to happen.

    Unfortunately, we are at the same impass that Bishop and I run in to. I can not use Scripture to make my point, because it is not taken as the standard to measure truth by. It is some mumbly-jumbly mix of fiction and history and fantasy…

    I do not believe you can remain happy believing every religion has a little truth – because I don’t think there are many religions out there that claim to be inclusive. Can a buddhist really, actually be a Christian as well? Can you be a Allah worshipping God that believes Muhammed was the greatest prophet, and still worship Christ as God? Can you believe as the Mormons do, that Jesus is Satan’s brother, and still accept Him as just a man, like the Jews?

    I’m willing to go out on a limb here Karen, and suggest you aren’t really risking anything by living the way you do. With all due respect, it is much safer to believe in a maybe Son of God Jesus Christ, than to stand with Paul and say “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins… If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

    I think Lewis says it best “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the SOn of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any partronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

    I would agree with you as far as conscience goes – at least I think so. I think they can be tricky. Especially when people suffer from depression, or OCD, or any host of other things that impact our ability to see the world in its true light. Which is why I say look to Scripture. If your conscience is eating away at you, over things the Lord would not convict us of, it has misled you. And if it has not been there to guide you, when you are sinning, it has also misled you…

    Reply

  106. bishop
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 15:11:06

    I really, really don’t see Scrpiture filled with the idea of “God meeting us where we are.” The Bible does say we will find Him, when we search for Him with all our hearts. I don’t think God is on a mission to be found by everybody.

    This has to be the most tragic thing I’ve ever, ever heard a Christian say. The whole bible is filled with God meeting people exactly where they were/are. The bible is filled with God going to the people (or, at the very least, sending someone as a direct ambassador of God to the people). It wasn’t always fuzzy drinks and popcorn that he was offering, but the fact remains that God goes to the people much more than the people go to God.

    It is some mumbly-jumbly

    Don’t put words in my mouth. I never said anything of the sort.

    mix of fiction and history and fantasy

    You say this like it’s a bad thing. Aside from it merely being a fact, trying to deny it or minimize it destroys the truth of the word of God that you believe in. You, again and again, limit the ability of God to use whatever his leisure may decide to pursue. You. Limit. God.

    There is very little, if anything, Paul writes that is backed up by the teachings of Christ or with the Old Testament (or at least that isn’t prooftexted like an amateur). Paul fabricated his religion and it merely ended up as a state-sponsored winner of the theological battles while decimating their opponents with word and sword. The message of Christ, not Paul, is what interests me. Paul created a personality cult that betrayed Christ much more than Judas could have ever done.

    Can you imagine how different the Christian world would be if the Council of Nicea (and other councils) had canonized a different set of books? Can you imagine what the Christian world would have been like if the message of Christ had been emphasized in the canon rather than the message of Paul?

    I love the Lewis egg quote. I always have. But it’s flawed. That alone could be an entire entry. But I’ll be a good boy. Promise. 😉

    (Gotta run for the day. I left you a FB invite for something. Hugz!)

    Reply

  107. Nicole
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 15:46:54

    I was addressing Karen – you’re narcissistic. 🙂 I hadn’t even got to yours yet…

    I should clarify. Because my comment, in rereading it, sounds very off from what I actually believe. It’s been a busy day, and my proofing is sub-par…. I don’t see God, in the Bible, CHANGING who He is to reveal Himself to mankind. The idea that He can’t come to people as a Father, because they have a crappy earthly dad, so He comes as a mommy is a big stretch… And, I’m of the reformed theological persuasion – I don’t believe people can ever, of their own accord, find God. I meant something entirely different than what I said. Sorry.
    Let me know if I should clarify more.

    Thanks for trying to behave yourself.

    Reply

  108. Karen
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 18:16:11

    Nicole,

    Regarding “I don’t believe people can ever, of their own accord, find God.” I don’t know if that’s the comment you meant as being “off.”

    I somewhat agree with you: The bigger truth is: GOD FINDS US (and yes, where we are,) we don’t “find” him/her.” Yes, we are told “to ask” “to seek” “to find” which only begins to crack open the heart and mind. We cannot even pray without being “called” by God to pray (by the Father or whatever imagery a person uses.)

    I also don’t believe everyone “needs” God to be a father figure. Some people don’t need a God “parent figure” to relate to. I’m not speaking of myself here. But I know of people who God is other than “Father” to them.

    I don’t think we can claim to respect and reverence God when we refuse to respect and reverence the “fat Black lady,” however that presents/translates in our personal lives.God is in every person. “The Kingdom of God is within you.” Not outside . Papa was right: “I work on the inside, not the outside.”

    For me personally,true respect and reverence for God is laying prostate, on the ground, before his/her feet, in absolute awe , as his/her humble creature! And also to respect and reverence the homeless man (or fat black lady-fill in the blank ) who sits at the corner by Walgreens up the street from me. That man inspires me.

    Without getting into a discourse on the Trinity, I am not denying Jesus is the Son of God. I am saying it would not cause me to lose my faith if He wasn’t. BTW-Scripture says we are all “sons of God.”

    Someone asked me (when I said Jesus is God) “then God killed him/herself?”

    I have a question, not only for you, Nicole, but Bishop and other thinkers on the blog: when you read a statement that Jesus made, as you read the words, how do you know what Jesus meant by the words? What do you use to interpret what the words mean. The words are in the Bible, but the Bible doesn’t tell us how to interpret. Yes, there are concordances, but that’s humans interpreting what they believe the saying meant. Ask two people, and you’ll get two different responses. I’ve seen it in discussion groups. So who/what is the ultimate interpretor that decides what Jesus meant? Who has the last/final word, of EXACTLY what Jesus meant by any particular saying?

    How about in the OT “bash your childrens’ heads against the rocks.” Taken literally….well, I guess that is a style of parenting that the writer’s of the OT writers (GOD)endorsed? (Which I really don’t believe.)

    If we say, “well, I opened the Bible and it opened to the page with words that spoke to me.” Well, then, are we are using our own filters etc to interpret. Or, God really is using the piece of Scripture to really talk to us. This is the challenge of Bibilical Scholarship and exegesis that has been going on for centuries ( I don’t know if it’s really centuries.) And we claim to know? When Scholars are arguing about it-still haven’t agreed ?

    Regarding suffering: Nicole, I did not mean to imply that the tragic events you cite cannot cause suffering. What I wrote was “….Our refusal to accept the situation is what causes suffering. Our attachments cause suffering. Detachment from outcomes is the key to reducing a lot of our suffering. Hard to do? Nearly impossible, but the goal for all of us.”

    It is our response to an event, tragic as it is, that causes our suffering. Our response is the source of suffering. Because we are emotionally and psychologically attached to either the spouse who had an affair, the friend with cancer etc. It’s like with stress: Events are benign in themselves, neither good nor bad ; they just are : hurricanes, fires etc. It is our (naturally human) response to react, emote, get hystrionic-whatever. Oh no! My house burned down. Any of us would suffer, me too! But my suffering is because I am attached to my house, family; attached to the belongings, my Bible with all the highlights, and the sayings of Jesus in red , and life I knew with that house and the sense of SECURITY I get from everything with the house . That is what really causes the suffering: our resistance to the way “things aren’t” and our resistance to that.

    I myself ,and my sister (2.5 yrs older than me) had breast cancer; I’m out of the woods 13 yrs and my sister 16 yrs. My sister’s was very aggressive, and mine caught in the nick of time. You bet I suffered at first: “My life!” “My life!” I was resisting with all my might. Then,in time, all I could think of was “God is with me, God is here.” “God is with me, God is here.” No matter what. Yes, I was afraid, but my suffering was reduced by clinging to “God is with me…” (instead of to my life.) And of course, my sister was a tremendous support.

    I am caregiver for my 93 yr old mother who lives with me. You want to talk about suffering 🙂 It’s a labor of love, and without the grace of God, and accepting/resigning to this fact of my situation, I would not be able to have survived this (having an aging parent live w/me )for the past 18 yrs, which is how long my mother has lived with me. I no longer “suffer” (well, every now and then I “allow” myself to and through me a pity party) because of this situation.

    Well, it’s about 4:20pm here in AZ/USA. Got to get ready for a 4th of July gathering friends are hosting.

    Reply

  109. Karen
    Jul 03, 2009 @ 19:01:45

    Bishop,

    I find your responses both thought-full and thought provoking . Though we all differ on points/position ,I’m learning a lot, esp:”…. I have a standing challenge—that remains unanswered everywhere I go, I might add—for anyone to defend current church doctrines using first century apologetics: that is to say, defend what they believe through the Old Testament only. They can’t. Given that Paul created most of Christianity’s doctrines out of thin air without any solid scriptural (OT) support, his word became the new scripture when it supported the personality cult of Christ rather than the message and mission of Christ.” I always understood that the Pauline writings/Epistles were in question. I appreciate your putting it into words.

    Though Jesus was not a Christian and his mission clearly was not to start a religion, I personally support “A New Christianity For A New World.” (stolen from Bishop Spong.) BTW, clarification: though his writings were/are a real eye opener for me, I do not necessarily agree with everything he espouses, but most. I do recommend his book “Jesus For The Non-Religious (2007″ I know it is deemed heretical” by most Christians, esp. the faint of heart and Fundamentals who feel threatened/defensive, it is an excellent read. Of course, leaders of most Christian persuasions have decried it, even Catholic theologians and Academy of Apologetics. 🙂

    I admit I had to put Spong’s book down at intervals because I felt threatened; became somewhat agitated, felt my belief system and security base threatened. However, you cannot argue with history, where the book “comes” from , and focuses on. I also recommend his other book “The Sins Of Scripture.” Spong is not anti-Christian, which of course, the titles would lead one to believe. He’s anti fundamental/literal translation of the Bible. I think he’d say “Everyone is entitled to their opinion but not their own facts. ”

    I really don’t know if the first 11 books of the Bible are allegorical. I can’t prove it is, or isn’t.

    Of note: Today my cousin in FL told me that her Book Club discussion group is doing The Shack and the group is up for grabs! So many differing positions and the same issues we are talking about on this blog. I expected nothing less from the book.

    Reply

  110. Nicole
    Jul 04, 2009 @ 08:32:32

    Karen,

    I’m feeling somewhat rebuked – I was raised well, and have a harder time being vocal about my viewpoints if I feel I am challenging someone of a different generation…. Too much like watching my own kids telling me how to drive 🙂 Thanks for sticking it out, I’m enjoying this…

    I don’t have a lot of time – but I wonder why people think if we disagree with others’ viewpoints it boils down to us feeling threatened? I don’t madly defend my position because I feel threatened…

    I’m not sure I want detachment. I don’t view suffering as a bad thing. I lost my grandfather and uncle this time last year, and found the bitterness of life to have a very different, but not altogether bad sort of taste. I don’t think many will understand what I mean by that, and I usually keep it to myself… But there is a brevity and intensity and seriousness to reality that only comes through loss. I don’t go looking for those moments, but I can’t say I rushed away from them either…

    I get what you are saying though. It’s why the rich young man could not follow Christ. It’s why we have to take up our cross DAILY – because we do cling far too tightly to temporary fullfillments, and haven’t a clue what to do without them.

    Reply

  111. Karen
    Jul 04, 2009 @ 14:15:14

    Hi Nicole,

    Please, don’t feel rebuked; I intend no such thing. Write freely, do share your viewpoints, bring it on! I’ve learned a lot of things from those younger than myself (shhh~early 6th decade!) I still work full time and my younger colleagues sp?)keep me on my toes and vice/versa. The generations have a lot to offer each other; I’m enjoying this blog very much.

    Regarding feeling threatened by opposing views: I think it’s natural human emotion to feel that way because, the threat is not of bodily harm, but to our sense of security that we derive from our beliefs-don’t you think?

    Detachment: One of the major goals of spirituality is detachment; not a cold, un-caring, “I don’t care” detchment; the trick is to still care, and still be detached/surrendered to outcomes. It’s a goal, and one I doubt I’ll arrive at even to the grave. But it’s the trying, the falling, the picking ourselves up and the determination to keep trying that refines the soul. And it is this that I believe ,and from all my studies, warms the cockles of God’s heart.

    I’ve read: Q: “Do you know the difference between a saint and sinner?” A: “The saint falls, gets up, dusts themselves off and keeps going; the sinner just lies there.” Some of the bios of saints I’ve read indicate a lot of them went to their graves with some of their “flaws” intact. Don’t ask me why I’m throwing this in-just am.

    Regarding your statement above : “…..But there is a brevity and intensity and seriousness to reality that only comes through loss. I don’t go looking for those moments, but I can’t say I rushed away from them either… ”

    I couldn’t agree with you more,Nicole! And I’d like to add the threat of major illness accomplishes the same-real fast.

    I’m sorry for your losses; death anniversaries bring up all sorts of emotions/thoughts. My father died at age 56/cancer-that was way too young . I was 24 and my mother widowed at 53. You are in my prayers at this time.

    PS: My mother, 93, still tries to tell me how to drive! 🙂

    Reply

  112. Yvonne
    Jul 05, 2009 @ 11:07:34

    Ahh, Karen, we are so very aligned in our personal maps of our paths to our Creator. Your logic, spirituality, acceptance, and inclusiveness inspire me…as do your questions.

    No matter how hard I try or want to believe that suffering/hardship is either permitted or ignored by our Creator (or caused by evil/Satan), I cannot. It’s disheartening to think that a loving, all-powerful Creator would not interject and correct massive atrocities like the Holocaust, Darfur, etc. or even the personal trajedies that happen.

    I think, as you do, that most of our problems are induced by our own poor choices/judgment, and that the others “just happen”. How we react IS in our control. For many, comfort and acceptance comes from the Bible and prayer; for others from loving,caring family and friends; and for others immersion in helping others. We can count on life to constantly change and we all need to be thankful & grateful each day and concentrate on the positive things in our lives and the good we can do for others. Back to “Love God, Love Each Other”, a very simple, basic, unquestionable truth that every person and every religion can be guided by.

    I thought this book was an entertaining piece of fiction, but after reading all the above posts, I think “The Shack” benefited readers by provoking these very discussions and letting us share knowledge, questions, and impressions.

    Reply

  113. Karen
    Jul 05, 2009 @ 17:23:10

    Yvonne,

    Why God allows suffering and not stop it is a mystery, no doubt. It was always explained to me that, though God COULD interject and stop evil and stop “bad” things from happening, God gave us free will and s/he will never violate that. It is the greatest(sometimes “not” depending on our choices) gift given to us by God. So among all the beauty of God’s creation, we also have murders, looting, plundering, rape~we get the wheat with the chaff. For sure, God brings good out of tragedy, only we cannot ever see that at the time. At least that’s been true for my life. As I look back, the times God said “NO!” were the very times that served as a stepping stone to where I am today; like metal being refined.

    I recalled today that there is a distinct difference between pain and suffering, not only in the spiritual realm, but the legal also. Something to the effect that, a person can be in spiritual and psychic pain, yet not necessarily be suffering. Huh? Anybody have any input on this one ?

    Carrying this thought to The Shack, while Mack was in pain over Missy’s murder (the thought of it most likely will always be painful,) he no longer was suffering from it after Papa et al got through with him ?

    I agree with you that The Shack, if it served any purpose, has got people thinking, debating, quetioning/renewing/deepending their own faith journey.

    As you commented..”these very discussions and letting us share knowledge, questions, and impressions…..” to me, are a gift in themselves.

    Reply

  114. Nicole
    Jul 06, 2009 @ 06:59:15

    Lewis said “Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional.” I think some people better understand, and accept the suffering they are experiencing, and are able to better handle the consequences because of that.

    I’m not sure that the WHYS of God allowing suffering are a big mystery, IF you believe the Bible. I think that Scripture offers many insights in to that….

    Reply

  115. Karen
    Jul 10, 2009 @ 00:03:13

    Thanks, Nicole; yes, Scripture has much to say. I’m going to revisit the topic “with” Lewis.

    Reply

  116. Maga
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 12:40:57

    I “googled” The Shack and ended up here…very interesting viewpoints. I will first say that I have not read the book, know people who have and are enthralled with it.

    I’m an “investigative” personality, so I’ve been perusing the ‘net to get a perspective on this book, and found it very disconcerting that the Trinity individuals have been given Hindu names, along with quite a bit of reference to Universalism…what’s up with that?

    I’d like to also interject that I think people have a tendency to get hung up on the suffering, personal and otherwise, in this world. As Christians, we are now ambassadors, “visitors”, here, and our home is Heaven. Heaven, where all earthly pain and suffering will be wiped away and remembered no more. So why can’t we get a look at the bigger picture of God’s plan?

    I lost both my parents very suddenly; my father at 15, and my mother at 26. I became a Christian at 24. The difference of experiencing those two losses were like night and day, once I had the perspective of faith. Did it hurt any less? No, not at all, but I was able to find comfort in the fact that God would reveal to me in due time, by His choice, so I could understand the why. Sometimes you will won’t understand ’til you meet Him, but we must always hold onto our faith that God is in control and “His ways are not our ways”.

    As far as the “Loving God” aspect, my pastor was talking this Sunday about the different aspects/character of God, only one of them being “Love”. He is also Just, Righteous, Truth, Glory, Power, etc. We get into alot of trouble when we focus on just one aspect of His character, ignoring and/or minimizing the rest and therefore limiting our understanding of who and what God is.

    Do I fear God? You bet! I fear grieving Him, because I know he is in control of EVERYTHING. I know too many “Christians” who break every commandment they can, and see nothing wrong with it (including so-called pastors)! Do they not realize that God knows what they have done? That He will mete out his consequences in His time? I do! Is that a consequence of only focusing on a “loving” God, and thinking there will be no consequences for their treatment of others?

    From what I’ve gleaned from this and other blogs, I won’t be reading “The Shack”. I get the feeling that enough false doctrine is wrapped up in “truth” in this book that you swallow them both. Remember how Satan did his best to manipulate Jesus with God’s own scripture? We must be very careful of what we expose ourselves to. Am I saying that others may not have been blessed? Of course not, but how much false doctrine have they now been exposed to that now seems “right”?

    Reply

    • Christina
      Nov 24, 2009 @ 23:12:27

      I know you wrote this comment some time back but I am just reading it as I too am finding myself doing a search on this book that is still, in the end of Nov. 2009 impacting many people and their theology of God through this book! But I just wanted to say what a GREAT biblical response you had! Praise God and AMEN!!! Nobody wants a holy and righteous God, just a perverted love of God.

      Reply

  117. Maga
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 14:18:12

    Very interesting background on the use of a Black woman as the god figure:

    http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/07/shack-elousia-mythical-mystical-black.html

    Lots of good articles on this blog.

    Reply

  118. bishop
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 14:31:27

    Other than the last link there is utter garbage. When the “pastor” can’t even grasp the simplest concepts of Tillich and prescribes to him concepts of “New Age/New Spirituality,” I immediately tune out the rest as hogwash.

    But, alas, I’m a glutton for punishment and read the rest of it anyway.

    As I thought: hogwash. Just more Christian propaganda. And then I noticed the author/”ministry” of that blog. Now I wish I’d seen that before reading and not wasted my time in the first place.

    Reply

  119. Nicole
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 07:47:24

    Maga, I appreciate what you shared in your first posting….

    As to the second – I’ll be honest, stuff like that makes me a little cautious as well. I think there are plenty of doctrinal reasons not to love The Shack, but I am not convinced the author intended the use of the black madonna, or buddhist names, or those sorts of things. I may very well be wrong, but because I do not know for sure what his intentions were when he renamed the trinity, I think it best not to speculate. It puts us on shaky ground when we start looking like we are grasping to any bit of false hood and running with it… Not saying you are, I just find the idea of reading too much in to things like that to reduce our credibility regarding the things that actually matter.

    I found a site where I could not legitimately use any of the author’s facts because he was always digging for the worst… Satan disguises himself as an angel of light – and the reason heresy works so well even in churches is because there is always that grain of truth in it that gets warped, know what I mean?

    Reply

  120. bishop
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 08:13:19

    I just find the idea of reading too much in to things like that to reduce our credibility regarding the things that actually matter.

    I wish more people understood this clearly.

    Reply

  121. Maga
    Jul 31, 2009 @ 11:45:05

    Bishop:

    Just curious, what type of “philosophy” do you follow?

    Nicole:

    Thanks for the comments! It is difficult at times, though, to completely grasp another’s perspective through a blog post. What did you mean by “I found a site where I could not legitimately use any of the author’s facts because he was always digging for the worst…”

    I do agree with you that Satan disquises and cloaks himself so as to confuse people and lead them astray from God. That is my main concern with this book. You don’t have to be “way off” to miss the mark in a spiritual sense, and I think this book does just that.

    Reply

  122. Nicole
    Aug 01, 2009 @ 19:22:35

    Hi Maga,

    Good luck figuring Bishop out. 🙂

    I meant that I had some concerns in the past about an author my church had been using, and in my attempts to bring forth some solid information about this author I struggled finding sights that properly represented him. Not everything about this author is evil, or terrible, and yet one of the sites I found nitpicked over smaller details, trying to stretch them for shock value. It gave his legitimate concerns less credibility, because his site made such a big deal out of fringe details. There are enough problems with the problems that we don’t need to dig for problems, you know?

    Reply

  123. Nicole
    Dec 21, 2009 @ 09:34:52

    Wanted to copy your comments below, so I could find them easier, and reply.
    Mack said:

    “I just found all of this. I must say that as someone who jokingly tells thier friends that “I’m still in peace talks with God.” This book may have been the seed needed to nail my knees to the floor… so to speak.

    I am replying to this particular comment, because… well, you’re question “Can you imagine everyone reading the Bible and “pulling what they want from it and leaving the rest behind”?” Shines such a light on most of these comments.

    It’s personally why I have doubted God so many times. Yes, I see the idiocy in blaming God for the imperfections of his followers. But everywhere I look I see ppl picking and choosing what suits them out of the Bible, and leaving the rest behind. I call it Christianity. A big reason why years ago in the mission field I wouldn’t dare utter that word for fear of losing my ministry.

    I don’t say this to critisize any of you… but reading the way you interact with each other… you have obviously chosen your parts of the Bible and are secure enough in your “rightousness” to tell others where they went wrong.

    There have been some great thought provoking comments made, but I must say, I personally didn’t see any from those tearing this book apart.

    Thanks Steve for the comment that made me laugh at the irony, and feel the need to add my two cents.

    ok needed to post again. Lord, help in this.

    I think that to say The Shack leads us to believe that God is not in control is a little over the top. I personally recieve from it that God is in control of everything but from a place of love allows us to make our own decision. God uses our decisions to work out the plan to the glory of God… and ultimately ourselves as well.

    IE: the evil of this world is not God’s doing… it’s our own. The man that molests a child is given a choice. He makes the wrong one… but that doesn’t mean God turns his back on him. God still loves him and wants to offer him salvation through Jesus. The man and the child are God’s beloveds equally. God can use that evil on the end of the man and the child to work his glory.”

    Reply

  124. Nicole
    Dec 21, 2009 @ 09:48:07

    “I don’t say this to critisize any of you… but reading the way you interact with each other… you have obviously chosen your parts of the Bible and are secure enough in your “rightousness” to tell others where they went wrong.”

    I don’t say this to criticize you but….”?

    Mack, this has NOTHING to do with my righteousness. Absolutely nothing.
    The consistent thread in all of these comments is my attempt to point people back to what God has said in His word, and those who love The Shack reminding me that it is just a novel, and it changed their life. Which of course, is a dichotomy. If it has really, truly, brought a person to a new understanding of God, or a renewed interest in Him, then we are agreeing that “just a novel” is not at all what we mean. We are agreeing that a novel actually has the power to change our hearts, our theology and our life’s direction. So, I then ask people on here to be more discerning. NOT that they agree with me, but that they take the time to ask themselves if what they are saying yes to in this book is actually in line with what God would have us believe about Himself, in the Word.

    The theological implications of trusting in the god of The Shack run deep. I am just asking people to be a little more objective, and a little less emotional, in their response to the book, and their response to me.

    Reply

    • Robert
      Dec 21, 2009 @ 14:03:32

      Does it really matter how we find God Nicole? How should I have “renewed my interest in Him”?
      Mankind has been created to have an encounter with God. It is not contact with religion, not “in the word” that gives us cause to believe in the existence of God; it is a meeting within our hearts. And when we meet God, we know that He is real, He touches the lives of people in ways you may not agree with. Sometimes the encounter is dramatic as it was with Saul on the
      road to Damascus. At other times the encounter is brief and poignant like Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. And at still other times the encounter passes without our knowing when and how but we know that we have been personally touched and our lives are changed.
      The love that touched my heart, the tear that glazed over my eye, the feeling that everything is going to be okay is what I felt after reading this story. This was my encounter with God. It matters not how, but once you have met Him, you will need no other proof.
      We are all equals, no matter who we may be or what we have done and none of us have all the answers Nicole.
      It is not religion that evokes the emotional response in us, it is God…isn’t it? So why would you ask people to be less emotional. One thing I have learned in my short time with God is not to judge. If the theological implications of trusting the god of The Shack is wrong, does this make you right? Is this what your God asks of you?

      Reply

  125. Nicole
    Dec 21, 2009 @ 18:50:26

    “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

    The word MUST in the greek is dei – it means it is necessary, it behoves us, it is right and proper…

    Worshipping God in truth is NECESSARY. We must do it. The post-modern age has no problems agreeing with Christ’s first point – that we must worship God in spirit. But it often rejects the second half. Christ commanded us to worship Him in truth. We honor and glorify God when we seek to know Him as He has revealed Himself to us in the Word.

    I know where much of this gets off track. I think the infallibility of Scripture is no longer assumed. I take for granted the idea that the Bible, and its revelation of God to us, is absolutely our baseline.

    I have been commenting on this thread for years now. I find it curious that everyone is so quick to judge me and my point of view, without ever really pausing to ask me where I am coming from, or why I am so impassioned about a novel I do not love. It is not for lack of caring. Quite the opposite.

    My husband is going to a friend’s father’s funeral today… My grandmother is rapidly fading from alzheimers… My friend’s mom was diagnosed with cancer three weeks ago, and it was pronounced stage four the following week. My friend is grieving the passing of her mom this Christmas… Where is your God of “this evil is our own doing”? What do I tell these friends Robert? It was not human error. Life sucks. Because sin happened. What is the BIBLE’s answer to that?

    I do not think I have offered my own personal opinion too often. I reread my comments today – and over and over and over I plead with people to compare this book with the Word. To be sure, God speaks to our hearts Robert. But how do you know the voice of God?

    I have NEVER suggested I have all the answers. In fact, in my last point, I tried my best to express that this has nothing to do with agreeing with me.

    But we are not to be tossed about by false doctrine… The New Testament is full of exhortations – to be sure of our teachings, to not be swept away by lies. We are all to be on guard for falsehood.

    I am still, 125 comments later, waiting for someone who actually wants to discuss where they see the god of the Shack in the God of the Bible.

    Reply

  126. Nicole
    Dec 21, 2009 @ 18:57:06

    Don’t think me callous Robert. I understand that it is because people want the assurance that “everything is going to be okay” that they put so much emotion into their answers. I get that.

    I don’t know what pains you suffer. I don’t know who you have lost, or who has been hurt, or who has hurt you. I don’t know what aches your soul feels are beyond repair. But I beg you not to be too quick to dismiss me for disagreeing with a novel, nor too quick to let God off of a proverbial hook that He has never asked to be removed from. He has no qualms announcing that He holds kings hearts in His hands and moves them where He wills. He has no problems with Job pronouncing that “the LORD gives, and the LORD takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” He is in control, and we can rest in this, as a blessing; because the sovereign King of the universe has the ability to do what He says He will do. And, He has promised to do all things for the good of those who love Him…. When life falls apart, I can rest knowing, NOT that He will pick up the pieces, but knowing that nothing has happened that He did not design to happen. I can seek comfort from the great comforter, knowing His will is being done, on earth as it is in heaven…….

    Reply

  127. bishop
    Dec 21, 2009 @ 19:28:31

    My husband is going to a friend’s father’s funeral today… My grandmother is rapidly fading from alzheimers… My friend’s mom was diagnosed with cancer three weeks ago, and it was pronounced stage four the following week. My friend is grieving the passing of her mom this Christmas… Where is your God of “this evil is our own doing”? What do I tell these friends Robert? It was not human error. Life sucks. Because sin happened

    See? This is interesting to me. You see a natural process of life as something sinful, as something that is evil. But yet that same process is your portal to your perspective of God. Fascinating.

    The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, but yet you somehow equate physical death with this sin. I don’t see that at all. Completely different interpretation.

    Reply

  128. Nicole
    Dec 21, 2009 @ 22:29:05

    Hmmm, I think I thought my stance universal. 🙂 Ha, so naive eh Bishop?

    I think Scripture is fairly clear that death has entered the world through sin. I imagine you have taken that to only mean spiritual death, I think the general understanding is both physical and spiritual death.

    Revelation 21:4 talks about God removing pain, and sorrow from us in the new heaven and new earth. I do not believe that death, or cancer, or leukemia, or alzhiemers would have been part of a sinless world. I think it is ONLY a “natural process of life” because of sin.

    Either way friend, death is that thing that people so often question God on. Whether we are talking about a man murdering a child, or a mommy getting in a car accident, or just dying of old age and illness, the point of The Shack still stands in juxtaposition with where I feel the Bible stands. The Lord is in control of it all, and people who adore this novel simply don’t want to believe that.

    Reply

  129. bishop
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 00:51:57

    death has entered the world through sin

    And under Pauline Christianity, this would be the prevailing perspective, yes.

    <i.Revelation 21:4 talks about […]

    Serious? You’re going to use the first century equivalent of of a bad Acid trip to justify your hamartiology?

    I do not believe that death, or cancer, or leukemia, or alzhiemers would have been part of a sinless world.

    Would you include blindness or deafness in this group of issues caused by sin?

    See? I don’t think most of these people really examine what sin actually is. They focus on the acts of sin rather than the nature of sin. And ultimately, the nature of sin, in a word, is restriction. Yeah, I know: I could go on and on but I’ll stop here.

    However, as a last note, I’ll say this. I think that the restriction of the nature of God by all side of this discussion is something of a sin. ;))

    Reply

  130. Nicole
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 07:58:14

    “by all sides”? You’re lumping me in that too, aren’t you.

    Man, I hate arguing with a guy that’s smarter than I am, about things I ought to know more about than he does.

    I wussed out a little bit Bishop, because honestly, when I looked up verses with sin & death in the same, they really all did seem to point to eternal dying, than mortal dying. Like, the wages of sin is death. Well, we all die, so certainly the point of that is not that believers don’t die, and Christ is saving us from that sort of death. Or that there are some sins that lead to death, and some that don’t. Again, what sort of death? I don’t know, but it makes me want to question what exactly the Bible DOES mean, as to sin and our death in this life. So, I did fall back on the first verse that came to mind. If our eternal, restored existence, without sin and its natural consequences does not include pain or grief or suffering, I suppose I imagine this life was not intended to either. It’s not a fully thought through process. Did it hurt when Adam stubbed his toe before he sinned??

    I admit then, that I am actually falling back on what I have been taught, and not necessarily what I KNOW from the Word. Thanks for stretching me. 🙂

    Now that said, I still think most people on here, while they have suffered loss and pain, are not familiar with the grief that “mack” experienced in this book – the rape and murder of a child. BUT, they still use The Shack to explain their theodicy, and their understanding of God’s part in/lack thereof in their pains… So, my point still applies. 🙂

    Reply

  131. bishop
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 12:08:16

    “by all sides”? You’re lumping me in that too, aren’t you.

    I think you have one of the more restrictive views of God and are incredibly culture-bound on your definition of what God can and cannot be. Just because some book says A is true, you somehow have allowed yourself to be convinced to believe that B also cannot be true.

    Man, I hate arguing with a guy that’s smarter than I am, about things I ought to know more about than he does.

    Not sure why you would think this. Christians, by default, are usually the most ignorant of their own religion. They believe all kinds of things that are just not true (or accurate) when examined more closely. Paul wrote it, I believe it, That settles it.

    I wussed out a little bit Bishop, because honestly, when I looked up verses with sin & death in the same, they really all did seem to point to eternal dying, than mortal dying. Like, the wages of sin is death. Well, we all die, so certainly the point of that is not that believers don’t die, and Christ is saving us from that sort of death.

    Really? And you don’t see the contradiction you just made? First, dying is a process. We are all dying. We die a little more daily. Much of our bodies is dying every second of every day. Most are merely in denial of that process (and this perspective) because they have been brought up and taught to fear death (primarily a western religious hangup actually; most eastern religions have very little hangup on the natural processes of life of which death is merely one). But outside of that, if Christianity is to be believed, then there is no eternal dying/death. Heaven or Hell, right? That’s it. But both are eternal. You are certainly welcome to call Hell “eternal dying” but that’s not consistent with scripture or tradition. Hell is just as much eternal life as Heaven. It’s merely a matter of who gets the speedo and a package of marshmallows on the way through the gates. “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb 9.27, emphasis mine).

    Did it hurt when Adam stubbed his toe before he sinned??

    Did Adam somehow created without nerves in his toe and sin just magically made nerves appear? Really? You people believe such funny things at times. I just want to know if you can back that up scripturally. 😉

    Now that said, I still think most people on here, while they have suffered loss and pain, are not familiar with the grief that “mack” experienced in this book – the rape and murder of a child. BUT, they still use The Shack to explain their theodicy, and their understanding of God’s part in/lack thereof in their pains… So, my point still applies. 🙂

    Someone (multiple people?) said that The Shack is mere fiction and not scripture. That’s true. However, there was something said that suggested that if fiction could change someone’s heart then it was on par with scripture. This is a non sequitur. Just because something is not scripture does not mean (a) that it cannot be used by God to change someone or (b) that truth somehow cannot be expressed through fiction or (c) that something that can change someone’s life must somehow be scripture. One of the most interesting things about watching this discussion is how often those who defend their truth through the bible actually limit the God found in that bible. Christians, in my opinion, are book worshipers rather than Christ followers. You may have Jesus in your heart, but you certainly ignore him with what you put in front of your eyes.

    Reply

  132. Robert
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 12:19:35

    …Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. James 1:19b

    Ignorance is always swift to speak!

    Reply

  133. Nicole
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:06:18

    Robert, I do not understand you coming on here, chastising me for having no thought provoking comments, for calling me self righteous, for calling me ignorant, and then not actually attempting to carry on a discussion. People seem to think that because I don’t like their book, they are entitled to belittle and demean me on a regular basis.

    Bishop.

    I consider the Bible to be my baseline. We can disagree on that, but that is ultimately what I hope to be my starting point. I don’t always get things right, but I am trying to grow… If my God is limited, I hope it is because He is seen as restricted by the bounds He Himself has laid out in the Bible. God forgive me if it is contrary to that…

    I don’t mean to diminish the eternality of hell. That was certainly not my point, in referring to hell as death. I was thinking of 1 John 5:16,17 when I was writing…. I honestly spoke without having a lot of thought put in to it yet, more musing out loud than anything. To be sure, hell is eternal, but the Bible does not refer to it as eternal life, but eternal punishment (Matt 25:46). Eternal life in the Scriptures is always presented as the positive alternative to eternal damnation.

    As far as Adam stubbing his toe… I just don’t see pain as being part of God’s redemptive plan for His people. Again, that’s somewhat besides my point. My point being, people turn to The Shack to get a false comfort from an inaccurate portrayal of a god that does not look at all like the God of the Bible.

    Christians run the gammit Bishop. There are some that live legalistic lives, by the Book. And some that live “free in Christ!” and don’t care what the Bible actually teaches. I hope my life is a life of worshipping in spirit and in truth. Where what I believe to be true of God is reflected in the life I live. If that is not what comes across on here, my profound apologies.

    Beyond that; I know I am defensive. I lack the patience right now to be thrown under the same proverbial bus for having an opinion. Sorry if my tone is inappropriate… Sorry if I missed addressing some of your points.

    Reply

    • Robert
      Dec 22, 2009 @ 15:32:09

      How funny Nicole,

      “Robert, I do not understand you coming on here, chastising me for having no thought provoking comments, for calling me self righteous, for calling me ignorant, and then not actually attempting to carry on a discussion. People seem to think that because I don’t like their book, they are entitled to belittle and demean me on a regular basis.”

      It’s as if you’re describing yourself. It doesn’t feel good does it? This is exactly how you have treated peoples positive opinion regarding the Shack. Nobody cares that you didn’t like the book. Many people care because they feel they’ve been attacked by you. And why…Because you feel the need to push your opinion and faith on people, and I think it’s awful!

      You haven’t done anything on here except pass judgment and question peoples faith for enjoying this fictional story. I’m not going to copy & paste all your comments just to prove my point, you can read them yourself.

      Why would I want to carry on a conversation with a person of your nature. And you call yourself a child of God.

      Please do one thing for me ok. Read my first post on this thread and please tell me what made you question my feelings.

      Thank you Ava, Brandon and Anton.. I have just finished reading this book and I am shocked that any non-positive opinions would follow this story. You people may think I am weird but this book has brought me back to the church and back to the Lord. As a child my family went to church every Sunday. As we got older we just stopped going for reasons unknown to me (I am now 35). When I picked up this book by no means did I think I was picking up a Bible. I knew it was a fictional story and never took it for more then that. All I was told was that it was a “good feeling story”. I wish that I could express my feelings as well as all of you. All I can say is that this book filled my heart with joy, love, and peace. I attend church every Sunday now and have this urge to learn more about the Bible and devote more time in helping my church and others. I will be starting Bible study next week and I’m feeding the homeless around Christmas time (something I’ve never done). I cant wait to learn more about the Lord and share this new love in my heart. After reading the book, I never thought these characters represented the real God or Jesus (if that makes since) It only brought my faith and love back. It sounds like most of you already have a wonderful relationship with the lord, I am right behind you! Please take this book for what it is (a good feeling story)! God Bless you all and have a wonderful Christmas!

      Reply

      • bishop
        Dec 22, 2009 @ 18:30:27

        Sir,

        You’ll forgive me, I hope, that I step in on this one with a bit of an attitude.

        But Nic and I disagree on most every fundamental level of Christianity for the simple reason that I’m not a Christian. I don’t accept the same worldview as she does. However, she treats me with respect and challenges my positions with courtesy and patience (usually LOL). She genuinely and passionately questions her faith not because she doubts its reality or its necessity in her life but because she wishes to understand it as best she can and we, as human beings, are limited in our ability to understand everything about anything at all.

        If you will stop for a moment and actually read the purpose of this page at the very top, Nic states, “I should probably add that I chose the following quotes because I find the theology disconcerting, and not because I agree with it…. love to hear your thoughts!” (emphasis mine).

        Far be it from me to speak for her, but the purpose, it seems to me, of this entire blog thread is the discussion of the theology of The Shack, not whether it made you feel good or gave you wings to heaven. So you came back to your god. Nifty. I’m all about encouraging people to find their way. But you have failed to address even the most basic of issues with the theology of this book. Even I have issues with some of the quotes she posted. They are not, by any stretch of imagination, within the Christian worldview of how God is perceived. I’m the first to suggest that the bible is limited in this regard and human beings—even Nic—have accepted this limitation willingly. But that’s their cross to bear and if it works for them, I’m not going to argue them out of it. I’ll merely point out, as I have, that I believe it to be limited. I have not attacked Nic for her limitations (or at least I hope she did not take it as an attack, but she’s been around when I have been on the warpath for Christians and knows that I only engage in real discussions with those I respect in return). But there are, actually, some issues with this book that fall outside even a liberal view of Christianity. For those who scream it’s merely a novel, they fail to recognize that theology isn’t merely found in your bible else you wouldn’t have a mass market for theology books by people like Piper or Swindoll.

        You, sir, need to learn some manners. Nic has taken on all manner of criticism for this page, for her views, and for her stance on this book. I find it noble that she has provided this forum for others to discuss, however heatedly, the various issues. But what I see is a mire of pathetic losers whining about whether or not their feel good philosophy of modern Christianity is under attack. They cry about whether or not someone hurt their feelings over a novel but can’t properly exegete a single sentence from the New Testament. You leave that for the heathens like me.

        So here’s my personal lack of manners, and I hope that Nic will forgive me: Sir, the theology of the book itself is what this page is about and so many like yourself have missed the point due to a high noise to signal ratio because they want to defend their feelings rather than discuss the depth (or lack thereof) found in this book in relation to a Christian paradigm. And if you are so new back to the church, then I seriously doubt you have the capability or the tenor to debate theology in the first place. But if you are, then I would hope you come prepared with your bible. Even I don’t wander these proverbial halls without one really close by.

        And lest I be seen as merely attacking you and defending Nic’s views of The Shack, my father is a very staunch conservative Christian. His views of the Christian god are next to some of the most perfect I’ve ever heard. But my father read this book and told me that there was one scene that just caught him and helped him deal through the grief of losing my mother. It was finally a cathartic moment for him. It was a feel good moment, so to speak, as he was able to release a great deal of his own pain. But not once has he ever equated the theology of the novel as something other than what it is to his particular Christian worldview: in error.

  134. bishop
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 14:12:31

    My friend, first, you have absolutely nothing to apologize about to me, nor be defensive about with me. I assure you. I enjoy the ability to have an intelligent conversation with someone of conviction. I don’t need to agree with you. And I merely point out various things for you to think about anyway. While we may not share the same worldview, that does not mean that I am not interested in watching you grow and the process by which you do. I’m pleased that you allow me the opportunity to observe and participate in my limited ability as both an outsider and an online friend.

    Reply

  135. Nicole
    Dec 22, 2009 @ 18:04:53

    Robert,

    It wasn’t me describing myself. It was me recapping what definitions you used to describe me. Those were the charges you laid at my feet. You can not throw that back at me as me saying those things about myself…. very unfair.

    I have reread my comments, twice. I do not name call. And, I’m not attacking. I merely posted a thread on a series of quotes from the book. I did not in this thread even state WHY I thought the quotes suck. I did not make it personal. Again, noticing the problem does not make me the problem. I don’t search the ‘net trying to find people to fight with…. I don’t know why I feel the need to be defensive; over and over and over, I have quoted Scripture, and asked people to discuss the theology in the book in light of Scripture.

    Again, this has nothing to do with my righteousness, nor my own opinion. Who does God say He is??? That is what I am asking people to answer.

    I have passed judgement on this book. I am not uncomfortable doing that. My parents encouraged me to be a critical thinker. Acts 17:11 talks about the Bereans who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” It is a good thing, and a right thing, to check what we are reading in line with the Bible.

    If all you got out of The Shack was a heartwarming story, that led you back into fellowship with the Lord, then praise God!! I got excited when Bishop went to a universalist church too – sometimes the Lord chooses unusual methods to draw people to Himself 🙂
    My not liking doctrine is not the same as my doubting someone’s salvation. I know many people that I love and respect as brothers and sisters in the Lord that enjoyed this book. If you suppose that I think myself a better Christian for not liking this book, you are badly mistaken.

    I do not think you will willingly listen to what I have to say Robert. It makes me sad, that a book can cause division. You must see, in my interactions with Bishop, that I am not so self righteous as to suppose I can not have good, and healthy and enjoyable discussions with someone whose opinion differs from me. I can disagree without it being personal, and I only wish others were more inclined that way as well.

    Reply

    • Tina
      Dec 31, 2011 @ 19:07:45

      Dear Nicole and Bishop, this is late in coming according to the dates of this discussion (of The Shack) but JUST IN TIME For me. I am a seeker who believes the teachings of Jesus and that He is who He said He is. I also am beginning to dig deeper than our modernized presentation of the gospel, which has seemed for a long time to me watered down and without substance even as I couldn’t understand why. I so appreciate the diligence you both give to seeking Truth and to discussing it with an honoring of each other that surely also honors God. Thank you for your example and for your stand. If you receive this message and are on Facebook, I would be honored to connect with you. My facebook url is http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1394062177&ref=tn_tnmn

      Reply

  136. Jackson Correa
    May 31, 2010 @ 21:40:49

    If I had a greenback for each time I came to daughter0fzion.wordpress.com… Great article.

    Reply

  137. Formerly Lost
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 15:28:24

    When any medium moves even one soul to question, let go of an ounce of bitterness/hate or move a millimeter closer to God, why not celebrate?

    Reply

    • bishop
      Jul 12, 2010 @ 15:54:05

      When any medium moves even one soul to question, let go of an ounce of bitterness/hate or move a millimeter closer to God, why not celebrate?

      Because that wouldn’t be proper for the modern Christian who is really just looking to stir up trouble or tell people precisely the One True Way™. Regardless of Paul’s declaration in Philippians, most Christians are still arrogant enough and self-righteous enough to believe that if YOU don’t say and do and act just like THEY say, do, and act then you must be “wrong.” Simple as that. And most (not all) can scream to high heaven that they don’t mean to make anyone feel that way or that they don’t actually do that to anyone, but their actions speak so much louder than their blog comments.

      Reply

  138. Raquel
    Aug 21, 2010 @ 12:08:44

    Bishop,
    We’re a soccer family.
    Not of the normal “soccer mom” sort. But of the obsessive, watch nearly every game, read blogs, debate over bad calls sort.
    So I was thinking last week (after the Liverpool/Manchester game) about what it would feel like to enter onto that field. I’ve never played soccer. I don’t even exercise. What would it feel like to be thrust into the ranks of such dedicated and talented footballers? That’s easy: I would feel awful, stupid, talentless. I would feel judged. They could support me and the stands could all be cheering but I would be convinced that it was pity that motivated their behavior. Because I KNOW that I know nothing. Shoot, I feel that way when I walk into Nordstroms. Like everyone is looking at me and my tribe, judging our lack of fashionable apparel.

    I make jokes about my 14 yr old having an “invisible friend” whom he dresses and behaves for. This friend appears to nag him about what is and isn’t embarrassing, about what I can and cannot do in public places (singing and dancing in the aisle to grocery store hits is a don’t-do) if he’s within 20 yards of my company.

    But the truth is, we all have invisible friends. Ones who condemn us most of the time, praise us in the worst of times, and inhibit us all of the time.

    You’re more than welcome to your opinion (I’m speaking to your arrogant and self-righteous comment) of whatever group (and how they may or may not perceive you) but I challenge you to consider that there is a distinct difference between what we think others are thinking (and motivated by) and what they actually are thinking (and motivated by).

    Reply

  139. bishop
    Aug 21, 2010 @ 12:44:07

    Raquel,

    Considering myself so challenged, I went to the Word.

    “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Prov 23:7)

    I do believe that says enough in response.

    Reply

  140. Raquel
    Aug 21, 2010 @ 13:37:07

    Hrm.
    I read the context… please do say more.

    Reply

  141. Steve
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 12:31:47

    I always come to these parties late. I got a bit confused about the stuff about sin and death. Before sin in the Garden, humankind were on probation about obedience (do not eat). They failed (because they were made in the image of God, and that gave them a choice), and so were removed because they shouldn’t eat of the other tree in their state. If they never sinned they probably would have lived forever, and not had to deal with diseases, etc. But they did, and as a result both physical death (separation of physical body from spirit) and spiritual death (separation of spirit from God) became realities.

    As to the book, the author basically says the whole experience at the Shack is a vision. It can be taken as allegorical, etc, but be careful to judge it as if it was a real event. It would be like taking Solomons Song as literal in the descriptions of the human body and the animal kingdom. I had no problems with its theology because I saw it as a story of one guy trying to understand the big concepts of God, which is too big a thought to be adequately described by human language. Jesus used a businessman as a picture of God – so a black woman is no more idolatrous than that.

    The author also tends to use “Christian” as the religion, not as a follower of Jesus. There is a huge difference, for any religion is useless to get you to God.

    The thing about God and evil to me is what is meant by free will and choice. I believe that God created us in His image and part of that image was the ability to choose to be obedient to God (and allow the work of the Spirit in our lives) or not to. He offers the gift of salvation which we respond to in faith (the choice). That is the same way we live day to day – by faith (choosing to allow the work of the Spirit in our lives). That choice is not a “work” – it does not add one iota to the finished work of Jesus at the cross. But how can you understand man made in God’s image if he doesn’t have that choice? Acts of evil come out of that ability to choose. Did God preordain that evil act? In our understanding no – the individual has responsibility for that sin. Can God cause good to come out of that situation? Absolutely!

    Where are you and I today? We have to deal with the acts of sin (which sometimes results in God’s wrath and death, though mostly the world’s system, run by Satan looks after the sickness, etc) and the root of sin that goes back to the Garden (this is the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives). Romans 8 has a verse that says even though our physical body is dead because of sin, our spirit is alive because of righteousness (the work of God).

    Reply

  142. Steve
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 12:56:01

    Now to an earlier comment of Bishop’s.

    “1) You mention the New Testament authors using the Old Testament as their guide. I have a standing challenge—that remains unanswered everywhere I go, I might add—for anyone to defend current church doctrines using first century apologetics: that is to say, defend what they believe through the Old Testament only. They can’t. Given that Paul created most of Christianity’s doctrines out of thin air without any solid scriptural (OT) support, his word became the new scripture when it supported the personality cult of Christ rather than the message and mission of Christ.”

    You can’t because the Old Testament is based on the Law, and the New Testament is based on Grace. Jesus came to fulfill the Law, and so brought in something different. Christianity is not just a fulfilled Jewishness. Paul spoke to individual churches about specific problems, applying grace to those situations. Why do we doubt his words are less inspired than those of people gone before, including the Gospel writers?

    “2) Christians are very concerned with what God can’t do.”

    So God can’t use Paul? Sure we get caught up on this – time to let it go, though.

    3) Seriously. Most Christi”ans believe their bible comes from Zondervan, God must be a stockholder, and that it must have always looked like that (footnotes and all) from the very beginning of time when Moses sat back and recorded God creating everything from nothing (after creating Moses … of course … from nothing … before everything … or something). But that’s okay. Most Christians also believe that there was some kind of standard orthodoxy that popped right out of the first century and has remained unchallenged ever since.”

    It is so easy to make fun of other things, isn’t it? I believe God set the pattern of salvation (and what the incarnation and redemption would look like) from the earliest of times. You can see the imprint in the Jews and Plato and other places so that when Jesus came and fulfilled all, it made much more sense. God revealed it incrementally over time. Some turn around and say “Christianity just borrowed their stuff from the Jews and the Jews from the Pagans, etc”. It’s actually was planned that way from the beginning.

    “4) I disagree that the first 11 books of the bible are allegorical. They are historical in nature. ”

    The Bible is the story of God. Why do you even have to say it is fiction when you just finished saying archeology keeps providing concurrence on dates and times. Why are their flood stories in almost every aboriginal culture? You miss the point by saying it has to be fictional to make sense. Written by one theological point? I suppose if writing from the Creator’s perspective is a theological view you are right. Try looking from God’s perspective a bit more when you read those stories.

    “5) Most Christians don’t realize that the primary author of modern Christianity was a mystic too.”

    And Jesus spent His times in the desert and isolation. It is actually listed as a spiritual discipline in some places – that isolation of being alone with God. If you have come up with 2 different things when you read Jesus and Paul you are listening to some other whacked out stuff. To allegorize the OT and cast off Paul allows you to mold Jesus into whatever you want. You take the historicity of Jesus away and you end up with just a bunch of ideas. Give me a flesh and blood Jesus that reveals God active in history over philosophical universalism any day.

    Reply

    • bishop
      Sep 04, 2010 @ 15:35:45

      You can’t because the Old Testament is based on the Law, and the New Testament is based on Grace. Jesus came to fulfill the Law, and so brought in something different.

      Epic Fail. Wow. While I had anticipated more actually using this approach, you’re my first. But, regardless that Jesus was neither a first century Christian nor under Paul’s teachings and doctrine, you still lose points for unoriginality. But before you try this again, start out with Systematic Theology by Norman Geisler (all 4 vols), Systematic Theology by Paul Tillich (all 3 vols), and Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (1 vol, but it’s really basic). Those should get you grounded enough to hold this conversation on more fair terms. Each has problems with presuppositions—Tillich less than the other two—but they are excellent starting primers for beginning Christians.

      Why do we doubt his words are less inspired than those of people gone before, including the Gospel writers?

      You may not. Your choice. But some with the need for more accurate views of history and theology tend to look for truth rather than some murderous madman’s view of religion. I would no more accept Paul’s view of Jesus than I would Delilah’s view of Samson. And, no, I don’t see the Gospel writers as inspired. Too many problems with the historical texts. As I mentioned before, Jesus didn’t write in red letter as you seem to assume. And given that the bible has already changed due to better scholarship in the last 50 years, anything you want to claim is inspired is either trickery of definition or outright fraud.

      So God can’t use Paul?

      Can we say, uh, read it again Sam? I didn’t say that at all, nor it is even a contextually accurate question.

      I believe God set the pattern of salvation (and what the incarnation and redemption would look like) from the earliest of times.

      You started out that sentence with “I believe.” Enough said. The rest is irrelevant from a historical and theological perspective.

      Why do you even have to say it is fiction when you just finished saying archeology keeps providing concurrence on dates and times.

      Again, you need to learn to read contextually. (It’s people like you that are the reason why Christianity has such a bad rap already these days.) I said “that, like much of the bible itself (from an academic perspective at least), The Shack is theological fiction.” You need to not only quote properly but read for meaning and then quote within context. I don’t throw words around ‘just because’. If you are unsure what “theological fiction” means (or even the word “much”), then you need to learn rather than assume. There are not many biblical scholars of worth that would disagree with that assessment or terminology. But I’m going to also guess that you’re one of those who jump up and down in arms when people call any piece of your bible a ‘myth’ because you don’t actually understand the meaning of the word and believe it is a synonym for ‘false’. Too bad. You’re already missing half the depth of your own bible right there.

      PS: You have it backwards. History doesn’t prove the bible. The bible is merely one more piece of evidence to be used in discovering history. Some of it fits and some of it doesn’t. And some of it is merely history through a particular lens. But it’s still merely one piece and a limited piece at that because it uses a singular perspective. I’m interested in truth and accuracy, not some theological fiction to present morality stories around a tribal bonfire. (Okay. That’s a lie. I’m actually very interested in the theological fictions or I would never have made it my career and life study. But my point is more that I don’t want to get caught up in one perspective but to drill down to the core under them all.)

      Why are their flood stories in almost every aboriginal culture?

      So? You assume that a flood story proves the bible accurate rather than the bible merely including a myth that is common for any number of reasons. Flawed logic. Try again. Especially since multiple flood stories predate the biblical version. Just because I can write a story of the Civil War doesn’t mean (a) that I participated in it, (b) that I have any clear understanding of the details except what is commonly known or passed down word of mouth to me, or (c) that I haven’t added something into my version to make a point or moral (or merely to entertain) my audience. If anyone else wrote down the story, you’d call it fiction. But once you include the word “bible” to it, it’s suddenly “inspired.” So you’ll need to do better than use a universal story to prove your truth here. 300 is the story of the Battle of Thermopylae and it holds kernels of the truth that can be historically verified. But that doesn’t make 300 the most accurate version of the story itself.

      Tell ya what: try “The Story of Joseph.” Not quite as universal and much more localized. Once you chew on that one for a while, let me know how you can prove its historicity (and then make a case with it for the inspiration of scripture) by pointing to some other similar story in a different culture while dismissing the other stories as either copycats or not inspired. (For this, I recommend Parallel Myths by J.F. Bierlein; though I don’t think you’ll find “Joseph” here, it’s merely a good starting point to understand the wider scope of cross-cultural storytelling.)

      You miss the point by saying it has to be fictional to make sense.

      Though I don’t recall saying it had to be fictional to make sense, I’ll stand corrected I’m sure if I did.

      Written by one theological point? I suppose if writing from the Creator’s perspective is a theological view you are right.

      No, you missed the point because you have a belief that overrides fact. You want to believe something therefore it is. You fall right within the camp of “Paul said it, I believe it, That settles it.” Excellent. At least we’ve established the baseline for conversation.

      If you have come up with 2 different things when you read Jesus and Paul you are listening to some other whacked out stuff.

      I already think the bible has some whacked out stuff, so you’re right. But then, studying these things from an academic perspective with real biblical scholars rather than merely listening to some guy in a pulpit might have something to do with my difference of opinion.

      To allegorize the OT and cast off Paul allows you to mold Jesus into whatever you want.

      Second Epic Fail in one post. That’s gotta be a record. Suffice to say: I disagree. Without Paul, Jesus becomes much more clear and real. All Paul did was muddle the playing field with garbage.

      You take the historicity of Jesus away and you end up with just a bunch of ideas.

      And you think Christianity isn’t already a bunch of ideas? You need to go back and study a little history.

      1. Start with the canonization process (the historical version, not the church’s sanitized version, and most definitely not a Protestant version of events) and move your way into the church through the crusades.

      2. Then push back to Jesus directly (for this I recommend The Complete Jesus by Ricky Alan Mayotte) and move up into Paul (here I also recommend The Metaphor of God Incarnate by John Hick and A Theory of Primitive Christian Religion by Gerd Theissen, though I do recommend just about anything by Theissen since he’s in the historical Jesus camp as well. Anything by April DeConick is also a good place to roll for a different academic perspective from the other two). Any Catholic bashing will be seen as a cop-out much like your opening rhetoric that already proved you’re a pulpit patsy rather than a serious bible scholar.

      (As an aside, I fall somewhere within the historical Jesus camp too!)

      3. Then get back with me after a couple of semesters of critical thought and biblical scholarship, I’ll be done with my two semesters of German by then, and we can try this again. I’m all ears for those who think rather than believe they can do more than merely fill a pew on Sundays.

      Give me a flesh and blood Jesus that reveals God active in history over philosophical universalism any day.

      Funny. I not once ever said that I was in the philosophical universalism camp. But, sorry, you haven’t even made it to first base with me in Christian doctrine to even worry about whether or not you can hold your own in philosophy or theology.

      Reply

  143. Steve
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 16:53:11

    Wow! Do I know how to push your buttons or not. So much for your personal value of tolerance. I guess it is just something people do for you. Thanks for whacking me with your brain.

    When I looked at your personal blog I clued in pretty quick to where you are coming from, and how you have the “Knowledge” that the rest of us don’t. I imagine that is why the words “I believe” shuts down any discussion for you; like Chuck Norris, you don’t have beliefs, just Truths. . Your list of your theologians and thus your bent on your theology/philosophy/faith is enlightening in all its plurality. I don’t even know why you are here when we are talking 2 different languages (not including your upcoming German semesters – that would be 3).

    I, and other evangelical Christians are not part of a conspiracy that has been thrust upon man down through the ages. Sorry. Maybe your Liber AL vel Legis says differently. You must pray like the Pharisees, “Thank God I am not Steve!”

    “regardless that Jesus was neither a first century Christian nor under Paul’s teachings and doctrine, you still lose points for unoriginality.”

    I didn’t know we got points for making things up… I mean originality (oh come on – loosen up). I know Jesus wasn’t a Christian by definition. And I don’t know what you mean when you say Jesus was under Paul’s teachings and doctrines. What I don’t get is why you use the “Christian” lingo when for you it means something different.

    Educate me –

    What is “salvation”?

    Who do you think Jesus was/is?

    Reply

  144. bishop
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 18:10:01

    Wow! Do I know how to push your buttons or not.

    Not really. When you push my buttons, you’ll know it.

    So much for your personal value of tolerance.

    You’ll have to point me in the direction where I haven’t been tolerant. Granted, I have little patience for blind stupidity, but that’s a whole different topic. If you didn’t want to engage in a serious conversation, you should have stayed in your pew. But tolerance? I have tons of it. Besides, I respect your beliefs enough to continue to study them and point out the errors in your logic. If you wish to be a better defender of your faith, I doubt you’ll get much challenge from a pulpit. But stick around the camp of those who don’t share your views and you learn how to never allow your sword to be dull.

    When I looked at your personal blog I clued in pretty quick to where you are coming from

    Obviously you didn’t read much since most of it deals with real life rather than anything deep at the moment. My interests are broad, so there is no “pretty quick” in getting to know or understand me at all.

    and how you have the “Knowledge” that the rest of us don’t.

    Doubt that since you would be hard pressed to find any such claim on my blog. I’m just some guy that likes to study for a living.

    I imagine that is why the words “I believe” shuts down any discussion for you

    That’s a difference between us. You imagine. I seek. I respond to what is in front of me without having to “imagine” what you might think, feel, believe, or otherwise profess. You wrote something and I have no reason to accept that you meant anything other than what you wrote and I couldn’t care less about your motives. I merely responded to what you wrote without trying to “figure you out” or any other such nonsense.

    Your list of your theologians and thus your bent on your theology/philosophy/faith is enlightening in all its plurality.

    Two of those are solid evangelicals that I cut my teeth on before I was even in my teens and I’ve studied under them both directly and been heavily influenced in my own personal thought by them. The third is a late life pick up that I happen to find more logical and persuasive than most (even if still not bulletproof). If I was going to have to live only in a world of Christianity, I’d want it to make sense on a fundamental level. I have yet to find any evangelical perspective that makes sense as a whole much less makes sense on the most fundamental elements of existence.

    I don’t even know why you are here when we are talking 2 different languages

    You speak pulpit and I speak academia. Not hard to figure out why you don’t comprehend. Not a lot of academia makes it to evangelical pulpits. As to why I’m here, it is because there are interesting people from which I learn a great deal about perspectives. (See comment above about sharp versus dull swords.)

    And because, well, Nicole can talk theology in ways that makes my head spin. Oh—and she’s hot!

    I, and other evangelical Christians are not part of a conspiracy that has been thrust upon man down through the ages.

    I’ve never suggested such a thing. Ever.

    I know Jesus wasn’t a Christian by definition.

    By definition? LOL! You can’t wiggle and imagine that you see Jesus as a Christian by some other perspective or even as some kind of proto-Christian. Talk about historical fictions. LOL! But, again, at least it’s good to know what foundation you stand so that it’s out on the table that you prefer to play with your definitions to ensure that you get the outcome you want. It was the implied ‘but …” with which you didn’t finish your sentence. I’ve been down this path many a time. And, yes, it is a button that I’ll ignore for the moment due to needing to be at a wedding rehearsal (that I’d rather sit and debate with you than attend, but that’s the breaks).

    And I don’t know what you mean when you say Jesus was under Paul’s teachings and doctrines.

    I didn’t.

    What I don’t get is why you use the “Christian” lingo when for you it means something different.

    Lingo? You mean Christians have a lingo? Does it come with a secret handshake or some kind of decoder ring? Are only evangelicals allowed into the club? Does it cost anything? Sign me up!

    Seriously. I wasn’t aware that Christianity had some kind of exclusive, special language all of it’s own. Given that the majority of it is appropriated from other cultures and religions, the semiotics is pretty simple. Nothing complex about it.

    Educate me –

    That’s why they have seminary.

    What is “salvation”?

    “the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.” Webster said it, I believe it, that settles it.

    Who do you think Jesus was/is?

    There isn’t an answer in the world that you would accept and be accurate at the same time. “I fall within the historical Jesus camp” is the best you’ll ever get out of me in one sitting. Sorry. I promise it’s not a conspiracy. 😉

    Reply

  145. Steve
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 20:27:08

    “Not really. When you push my buttons, you’ll know it.” There will be a siren or flashing light?

    “You’ll have to point me in the direction where I haven’t been tolerant.” You are right. We all have different levels of tolerance, and how we speak to others. You refer to me as “blind stupidity” and I consider your head to be filled with “empty thoughts understood as intelligence and truth”. So I guess we are on the same page.

    “Obviously you didn’t read much since most of it deals with real life rather than anything deep at the moment.”

    Aside from the fact you have removed 93% of your personal intimate life from your site, you have a lot that speaks volumes: You follow a “philosophy and religion of individual sovereignty, self-discovery, personal accountability, and social responsibility based on the path of enlightenment found within Liber AL vel Legis, the Book of the Law.” Your “ideology follows (your) personal definition of Thelema, (your) chosen religious path; therefore, (your) ideology consists of: individual sovereignty, self-discovery, personal accountability, and social responsibility.” Your “Address to the Bubastis Strategy Summit Meeting” was entertaining and full of, what do you call it, “academia”?

    Doubt that since you would be hard pressed to find any such claim on my blog. I’m just some guy that likes to study for a living. Ummm you are much more than that.

    “That’s a difference between us. You imagine. I seek. I respond to what is in front of me without having to “imagine” what you might think, feel, believe, or otherwise profess. You wrote something and I have no reason to accept that you meant anything other than what you wrote and I couldn’t care less about your motives. I merely responded to what you wrote without trying to “figure you out” or any other such nonsense.” – and in doing so you have already pegged my motives. Cut the crap. You have firm beliefs on what life is all about, about the historicity of Christianity, of “Fates and Fortunes”. You take the “myths” of the Old Testament and use their very words to create arguments and discussions forming your world-view and theology – you use what you believe is fiction to form your theology? So much assumption.

    “I have yet to find any evangelical perspective that makes sense as a whole much less makes sense on the most fundamental elements of existence.” I have yet to hear you say anything that relates to the fundamental elements of existence. Your world view makes no sense to me, as mine does to you. All you are saying is if I don’t believe what you feel is the truth I am a troglodyte. Woopie-ding!

    “You speak pulpit and I speak academia. Not hard to figure out why you don’t comprehend. Not a lot of academia makes it to evangelical pulpits.” You call your studies academia so it is superior over pulpit talk. Really? That is what you really believe? Of course, how could I be so foolish and blind? I have to stop reading all those fake Biblical scholars.

    Nicole is a wonderful Calvinist trying to figure out the faith thing as we all are. I am a wonderful Armenian doing the same thing.

    I know Jesus wasn’t a Christian by definition.

    “By definition? LOL! You can’t wiggle and imagine that you see Jesus as a Christian by some other perspective or even as some kind of proto-Christian. Talk about historical fictions. LOL! But, again, at least it’s good to know what foundation you stand so that it’s out on the table that you prefer to play with your definitions to ensure that you get the outcome you want. It was the implied ‘but …” with which you didn’t finish your sentence.” Ummm, I simply meant Jesus wasn’t a Christian by definition because that definition is a follower of Jesus, and I don’t see how He could be following Himself. The foundation I stand on is that Jesus was fully God and fully human. I suppose Peter’s first sermon in Acts sums it up rather well.

    ““the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc.” Webster said it, I believe it, that settles it.” Nice dodge.

    “Who do you think Jesus was/is? There isn’t an answer in the world that you would accept and be accurate at the same time. “I fall within the historical Jesus camp” is the best you’ll ever get out of me in one sitting. ” Great! So you believe that Jesus was deity and humanity too! That even though He danced and spilled Jello He somehow managed to live a sinless life.

    I don’t just believe what you consider “bad theology” because the church has taught it, or some simpleton of a Bible Scholar said it. I believe because I have found it to be true in my experience, in my the history of my tradition, because of the sense it makes, and the veracity I have found in the Scriptures. As you pass judgement on mine and others comments and beliefs by seeing a word and assuming all the rest is hogwash, so I see your gnostic understandings (that has been around a long time) and write you and your scholarship off. It doesn’t hold water in my studies. I got past that liberalism of the early 1900’s, the assumptions it was based on, and the humanistic approach. Interesting that Thelema was developed about that time as well.

    Reply

  146. bishop
    Sep 04, 2010 @ 23:35:57

    There will be a siren or flashing light?

    No. It’s more like a little whirly hat that pops out of my skull.

    You refer to me as “blind stupidity” and I consider your head to be filled with “empty thoughts understood as intelligence and truth”. So I guess we are on the same page.

    Not at all since I referred to you as no such thing. However, if the shoe fits and you wish to claim such an ad hominem for yourself, I will not stand in your way.

    Aside from the fact you have removed 93% of your personal intimate life from your site

    Ouch. Does it still say that? I should change that now. Well, it’s probably still true though. I’d hoped to get back to writing more, but .. well, anyway. Way off subject here.

    therefore, (your) ideology consists of: individual sovereignty, self-discovery, personal accountability, and social responsibility.

    Yup. Too bad evangelicals decry such ideals. A little self-discovery rather than blind adherence to a pulpit might do a few good. Fortunately, I think, there are enough Christians out there doing solid work, that I believe such ideals are exemplified in their lives.

    Your “Address to the Bubastis Strategy Summit Meeting” was entertaining and full of, what do you call it, “academia”?

    I would highly doubt it was full of academia at all since it was written as a motivational speech and intended to entertain at the same time. I’m glad it worked even if you have no background or context of the subject matter. But at least this proves you can click links and read. I’ve added a new link that you reminded me I’d forgotten to add even though it’s been around for a while. Thanks.

    Ummm you are much more than that.

    Oh. Do stop spreading such rumors. They come to no good end.

    You take the “myths” of the Old Testament and use their very words to create arguments and discussions forming your world-view and theology – you use what you believe is fiction to form your theology?

    I do? You know what my theology is from an English paper and some online reading in ten minutes? Wow. Carry on please. You got my attention.

    You call your studies academia so it is superior over pulpit talk. Really?

    I already know that Christian academics is light-years ahead of the pulpit. I’d rely on someone like Theissen over Driscoll any day. It takes a whole lot more than pulpit sensationalism and evangelical brimstone to get my attention.

    I have to stop reading all those fake Biblical scholars.

    Dunno. You haven’t ever mentioned anyone by name. I keep my studies on side of solid academic authorities recognized throughout Christendom as such over pulpit antics. But generally the more Dobson or Lahaye someone has in their library, the less I tend to take them seriously. Exceptions exists, of course. 😉

    Ummm, I simply meant Jesus wasn’t a Christian by definition because that definition is a follower of Jesus, and I don’t see how He could be following Himself.

    Of course you did. Nice save. *wink*

    So you believe that Jesus was deity and humanity too! That even though He danced and spilled Jello He somehow managed to live a sinless life.

    If that’s what you believe to get you through the night, I’m good with that.

    I don’t just believe what you consider “bad theology” because the church has taught it, or some simpleton of a Bible Scholar said it. I believe because I have found it to be true in my experience, in my the history of my tradition, because of the sense it makes, and the veracity I have found in the Scriptures.

    Good for you. Makes little difference in the world anymore than my opinion does. But don’t fool yourself that just because it makes you feel good that it’s accurate from any other perspective.

    Reply

    • Tina
      Dec 31, 2011 @ 19:06:43

      Dear Nicole and Bishop, this is late in coming according to the dates of this discussion on “The Shack” but JUST IN TIME For me. I am a seeker who believes the teachings of Jesus and that He is who He said He is. I also am beginning to dig deeper than our modernized presentation of the gospel, which has seemed for a long time to me watered down and without substance even as I couldn’t understand why. I so appreciate the diligence you both give to seeking Truth and to discussing it with an honoring of each other that surely also honors God. Thank you for your example and for your stand. If you receive this message and are on Facebook, I would be honored to connect with you. My facebook url is http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1394062177&ref=tn_tnmn

      Reply

  147. Candi
    Jul 21, 2011 @ 23:52:35

    Faith is a journey. God reveals His truths to people who are willing to listen and who are not stuck in an earthly mindset. If we open up our hearts to Him, He will start to show us things we’ve never seen before.

    Reply

  148. Tina
    Dec 31, 2011 @ 18:06:35

    Dear Nicole and Bishop, this is late in coming according to the dates of this discussion but JUST IN TIME For me. I am a seeker who believes the teachings of Jesus and that He is who He said He is. I also am beginning to dig deeper than our modernized presentation of the gospel, which has seemed for a long time to me watered down and without substance even as I couldn’t understand why. I so appreciate the diligence you both give to seeking Truth and to discussing it with an honoring of each other that surely also honors God. Thank you for your example and for your stand. If you receive this message and are on Facebook, I would be honored to connect with you. My facebook url is http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1394062177&ref=tn_tnmn

    Reply

  149. Drusilla
    Dec 20, 2012 @ 18:12:32

    Hi there, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this post.

    It was funny. Keep on posting!

    Reply

  150. julio jones jersey
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 23:54:50

    Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post
    seem to be running off the screen in Safari. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The design and style look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon.

    Kudos

    Reply

  151. Replica Watches
    May 07, 2013 @ 06:35:39

    Hi! This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog.
    Is it difficult to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about making my own
    but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any points or suggestions? Cheers

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: